Our week in the Philippines didn't exactly start out as planned - as in it was COMPLETE disaster. Remember how we talked about our Flying Mishaps
- which can be summed up to "you get what you pay for"? Well this is where one of our budget airlines SCREWED us.Original Plan
: Fly into Clark, take an 8ish hour bus ride at 10pm to Banaue where we would arrive at the beautiful rice terraces
early morning where we would spend the day. Then take the same bus back that night where we would get back to Clark the next morning and then fly to Boracay - AKA paradise. Well our flight got changed to 3 hours later, causing us to miss that bus so instead, we decided to just take a flight early the next morning from Clark - Boracay. Meaning we would be spending the night at the airport.
We've already had PLENTY of experience sleeping at airports so we weren't too fussed over this. Unfortunately, this was an airport like no other, thus far. Only international flyers were able to be inside the airport (which did NOT include us since we had a layover in Clark) so we were stuck outside. With cockroaches and dozens of other humungous bugs EVERYWHERE. And I'm talking GIANT FLYING
cockroaches. We were going to take turns sleeping (we didn't want to get robbed) and as exhausted as I was, there was no way I was sleeping with cockroaches creeping around every corner in the hot humid weather. Yes, it was the middle of the night. No, this didn't mean the humidity wasn't 80%.
So after 8 hours of terrified exhaustion, we finally board the plane to take a 45 minute flight to Kalibo, where we then waited for a bus to take us 2 more hours to a dock where we boarded a "bunka" boat. This 15 minute boat ride finally landed us in Boracay! And the 15+ hours of traveling was worth it to get to paradise.
White Beach, Boracay had THE most BEAUTIFUL white sand and clear (yet incredibly turquoise) perfect-temperatured water I have ever been in, in my LIFE. And this is including Fiji and Thailand. Yes, it was probably the most humid place we had been so far, but that just meant more time spent in the water, which was probably around 80 degrees.
We were halfway through our trip and probably spent the majority of our money, so this was just an excuse to be completely lazy and lay on the beach all day, which we definitely did. I was completely content with going for a morning swim, laying on the beach drinking $1 happy hour cocktails, napping under the sun, going for another swim and then watching the sunset.
After a few days of this, we did decide to partake in a few activities - with a bit of coercion from the dozens of guys harassing you on the streets. We booked a sailing trip around the islands followed by horseback riding at sunset at about $40 a person. A few Filipinos came on the sailboat with us and we cruised around for a few hours and ended up riding right into a storm. It poured on us for a good 20 minutes and then literally cleared up within 5 right after. We also snorkeled a bit but the rough waters and lack of fins made it a bit difficult.
Snorkeling with Marlon & Nemo (if you look reeeal hard, you can find them!)
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Our semi-sketch boat with tarp sails
Horseback riding later was a lot different than I expected it to be. I thought we would arrive at some ranch and we would just be riding through big fields. After taking a little "tuk tuk" (their little baby cabs) to the stable, we arrived at a dirty farm with a few kids manning the horses. Without so much as a brief introductory (I've never been horseback riding before), we were jumping on our horses and were on our way. Instead of riding through fields, we actually rode down the street and then into what I guess were the neighborhoods. The streets had sporadic housing which was basically just a small shack with an entire family living inside every half kilometer or so. And I'm talking, 8 by 8 feet HOUSES with families of 5 living in them. Clothes lines were connected from houses to trees and little kids were running around everywhere. People were sleeping in the dirt under trees with babies wrapped in their arms. I felt like an asshole riding around on a horse because all of the kids would come chase after us a few dozen yards when we would ride past them.
I did notice a lot of families cooking and having big get togethers at the larger houses I saw. There would be heaps of people gathered outside these houses drinking and celebrating birthdays and such. But these were rare. Poverty was the majority of what we saw.
They were absolutely INSANE drivers
Leaving the stable!
The rest of our trip was spent wandering through the shops, lazing around on the beach even more, finding authentic Filipino food (most of the food on the touristy island of Boracay was BBQ and seafood kind of food), eating, finding happy hours and playing pool. Which are all some of my favorite past times so I was completely satisfied.
Boracay may not have been the most exciting destination we went to, but it was still an amazing experience. Extremely eye-opening for sure. Maybe I'm a little biased because it's my "homeland" but I just couldn't believe the poverty there. And this is at the most touristy place in the Philippines. I can't even imagine what the REALLY poor places are like. There are about 94 million people in the Philippines and of those, 70% are living in poverty. That's almost 70 million people possibly living in the dirt, not knowing when their next meal is going to be.
I definitely want to come back to the Philippines and stay a lot longer. Boracay was gorgeous but I'd want to get a more authentic Filipino experience. Although, there really was nothing better than being able to walk 100 feet to the beach, wear nothing but a swim suit, be able to go dive in the ocean at any point in the day or night and choose from the happy hours as cheap as 30 pesos a beer (which is less than a dollar). The people are so nice and hospitable, there are tons of shops, bars and restaurants, and the view didn't suck either :)
One look at my iPhone weather app and I knew that this rare occasion of beautiful weather MUST be spent outdoors. The boyfriend’s mother is also visiting so this doubled as an excuse to make the trip to Phillip Island for the first time since moving to Melbourne.
Located about 140km south of Melbourne, Phillip Island is a popular tourist destination, most notably known for the “Penguin Parade”. This unique experience allows visitors to watch the famous “Little Penguins” (AKA the smallest species of penguins standing at 33cm tall and the only penguins native to Australia) waddle ashore from the ocean, dart across the beach and wander into their burrow homes.
Photography/filming was strictly prohibited at the Penguin Parade but this is a short clip of the Little Penguins eating at the Melbourne Zoo!
We, of course, had to plan this trip out to fit our spontaneity, budget and time limitations. Spontaneity equaled expensive accommodation because of last minute planning, which didn’t agree with our budget. Work commitments also didn’t allow us to stay longer than one night but any kind of public transportation would take hours. Solution? Rental car! Goodbye $250 accommodation for ONE night and 32038413-hour-long public transportation and helloooo $47 rental car! (Thank you Europcar Rentals!) This would allow us to drive there and back in one day at 2 hours each way.
Since the Penguin Parade is shortly after sunset (the Little Penguins have to wait for it to get dark to make it more difficult for predators to catch them), we started our day off hiking Cape Woolamai. This 3 hour (including time for photo opps plus appreciation of natural phenomenon’s), 5.5km hike brought us to a spectacular view of Phillip Island and The Pinnacles (bottom, left photo), as well as to the highest point on Cape Woolamai. For people that love hiking, this was definitely worthwhile, although not very challenging. If you’re in for a good walk and a breathtaking view of natural rock formations, then this is a must. If you’re looking for a difficult and dangerous adventure, then well, I heard you can climb these crazy steep rocks.
After dinner, we headed for the Penguin Parade. We debated getting the “Penguin Plus” seats, which seated you in the very front, but were perfectly happy with our general admission tickets which allowed us a good view to watch our adorable little blue friends scurry across the sand in groups of about 20-25 and up towards their homes. The Boardwalk
, or walkways back up to the main building, was the best part. We got as close as possible to the little guys in their natural environment, saw them interact, sit on their eggs and heard a little too much of their “mating” sounds (September is apparently mating season).
We also got to learn “heaps” about Little Penguins. While out at sea, they eat HALF of their body weight every day. During incubation periods, the male and female take turns sitting on the eggs (usually 1 or 2) and switch off every 3-4 days. Since they eat so much (imagine eating 50+ pounds of pizza every day…yummm), they are able to hang out for those few days while their spouse swims about. This conservation center also overturned the myth that penguins mate for life. They actually have a 17% divorce rate and often find new hubbys/wives every year due to divorce & mortality rate. Tips?
Get there at least an hour early
to get good seats! This was probably the main advantage of the Penguin Plus
tickets – they were lead to the front right before sunset to avoid sitting in the cold for an hour/hour & a half. But the difference of tickets
: GA=$22 // PP=$44
- One thing that might make a difference for you is the fact that they are a not-for-profit organization so all proceeds go to the penguins:)
bring food – I witnessed one of the dozens of crazy, ravenous sea gulls land on my boyfriend’s head and steal pizza out of his mouth. Seriously. This was the LEAST
I have ever enjoyed eating pizza, having to guard it from hovering, fearless birds. They strictly prohibit photography inside/on the beach and as much as I wanted to photograph the penguins, capturing the moment where a bird steals my boyfriend’s pizza definitely takes the cake.
End of our hike:)
I was desperately wishing there was one underneath our car.. (no luck)
Watching the surfer's at Woolamai Beach
As my month-long holiday is coming to an end, I find it ironic how I take a vacation from my vacation (Australia) at HOME. But more than that, I realize how incredibly LUCKY I am to be able to do so - that my "home" is a vacation.
Granted, Sacramento isn't the biggest tourist destination (ha), but that's my original home and I will always always ALWAYS love it dearly. I got to be in one of my oldest friend's wedding, spend time with my family and play with my nephews that are growing all too fast (reality check, or should I say a slap in the face by reality: when they're around 20 years old, I will be 40!! FORTY!!). Anyway, I got lots of good family time in and got to see some old friends as well, which is always nice. I absolutely LOVE summer days in Sacramento consisting of BBQing, swimming, going to the lake and ending with the most amazing warm summer nights!
I was back and forth from San Diego to Sacramento a total of 3 times. That's three 8-hour drives & one flight. I didn't originally intend on going back and forth so many times, it just kinda happened. When I first arrived back in the States -
OH and can we first talk about how I was reeeal reluctant to go back, BTW? I may or may not have been a little careless with my passport the week prior to flying home so I might have an excuse not to have to go back (sorry America, but I looove Australia and I reallyy wasn't ready to go back to reality)
- I had landed in LA and then took a train to San Diego after hanging out with my mom in the horrible city that is Los Angeles (8 hours in the city really solidified my hatred for this place. From the exasperating traffic, to getting lost in the ghetto - thanks mom! haha - to rude employees at the train station.) After spending the 4th of July in not-so-sunny SD, I drove up to Sac for my high school best friend, Rosy's wedding. I drove up with my friend, Miles, and was close to deciding to just stay in Sac the remainder of my time in The States, until he ended up needing a ride back down to SD.
My first few days back in SD were kind of a bummer. Everybody was pretty busy working & what not and I spent the weekend mostly by myself. The weather was perfect and I went on bike rides to the beach and ate all of my favorite food - alone. I decided to go back up to Sac early and then of course, my last 2 days in San Diego, everybody was around and reminded me why I love this place so much. It's funny because I was seriously questioning whether or not I ever wanted to move back to San Diego and then did a complete 180 and am now excited to move back here when I return from traveling. I guess loneliness will do that to you.
Anyway, I spent my last couple of days in San Diego wishing I wasn't going back to Sac and wanting to stay there. I had a flight from Sac-LA and then my international flight from LA-Melbs and so I decided last minute to change my Sac-LA flight to Sac-SD so I could spend my last few days back in SD. Talk about last minute plans.
So I made the drive back up to SacTown and spent more quality time with the fam. My dad came into town, which is a kind of rare occasion, so it was nice hanging out with him. And then my mom came up for my sister, Mallory's birthday a few days later and so we had a BBQ with each of them (one perk of your parents not being able to be in the same room as each other = more family events because of having to separate them). So here I am back in Sacramento and you can probably guess what I'm thinking by now - I just want to stay here instead of going back down to SD! (Yes, I sometimes wonder if I am clinically bipolar as well).
I literally thought of every possible way to just stay in Sac and worked out a pretty good plan, but decided last minute to just go back down. So now, I'm in San Diego on my last full day of vacation before heading back to Aussieland (and for some reason I'm inside blogging instead of laying on the beach...hmmmm...). And of course, I'm not completely 100% thrilled on going back (I may or may not have delayed getting my visa to enter back into Australia, at the chance that I may not have to go back).
Not that I'm not incredibly excited to see Nate, but this trip back and pretty much my entire trip to Australia, has made me realize how much I love my home. How much I love California and honestly, America overall. And I've never been one to be super pro-'Merica. But I love this place - this country - and I love living right by the beach (No - Australia is NOT all beaches like how their propaganda leads us to believe!) I love cheap alcohol you can buy everyyywhere. I've missed my friends and my family so much. I'm LOVING watching the Olympics from America. I miss having a working iPhone (damn you AT&T for making it impossible to use iPhones with foreign sim cards!) I miss driving, In-N-Out, California Burritos, having toilet seat covers in public restrooms, Sacramento water (it tastes amazing! Although I may be a little biased since I grew up there), seeing all American sports on TV, driving on the RIGHT side of the street and the rest of the familiarities of home.
So as much as it seems like all I've done is whine and complain about where I am or where I'm going, from all of this, I've come to really appreciate so many things - everything really. Not only am I blessed to be able to travel to all of these places - my homes included - but they're all so amazing that whenever I arrive at each one, I don't want to leave.
Overall, I had an amazing time catching up with old friends - one of the biggest things I've missed while being away is having a lot of friends. I've made a few good friends in Australia, but most of the friends I made at all have moved back home. I've missed the nights of going out with a big group and then passing out on a friends couch with the pizza guy banging on the door because your drunk friend ordered a pizza and then decided not to wake up when he came to deliver it. I don't miss getting hammered 5 nights a week (well, every so often I might), I just miss making crazy memories with friends.
I'd love to think that one day I will decide to just live in some exotic city like Nepal or Tuscany or something, but I honestly don't think I could permanently live anywhere but California.
Six Days of Fiji.
Definitely not enough time to see all the beauty this country has, but enough to fall in love with it.
Nathaniel and I flew into Nadi, which is on the main island on Monday, June 18, after a looong journey consisting of closed airports (damn you Avalon Airport - always fly Tullamarine in Melbourne, it's not worth paying less to fly Avalon!), waiting for them to open at gas station cafes, sleeping on airport floors, and racing to catch our connecting flights. Our first stop was the Hilton Resort, also on the main island. Our funds limited us to only one night here, but I'm glad we were only on the main island for a night since there are so many islands. The Hilton was GORGEOUS. 7 pools overlooking the ocean and beautiful rooms. We spent the day by the pool reading, drinking and watching the sunset.
After continuously checking the weather in Fiji weeks prior to leaving, only to finally accept the fact that it would rain 5 out of the 6 days we were there - we were welcomed by perfect, sunny, warm weather. It ended up raining a total of 1 morning we were there and the rest of the time we were blessed with the best weather we could ask for.
The second day we went on the South Sea Island Cruise
, which wasn't so much a cruise but more of a ride to South Sea Island where we would spend the day. This little island was beautiful and TINY. You could walk around the entire thing in 5 minutes. Day 2 was spent going on a glass-bottom submarine, snorkeling, drinking our unlimited supply of alcohol (included in the cruise package), kayaking, laying out and eating. It was my first time ever snorkeling, which was amazing seeing all the underwater life. They took us on a boat to snorkel the outer reef, which was 10 times more amazing than the reef right on the island. After missing our boat back to the main island and having to catch a separate ride, then getting lost on the way to our second accommodation, we arrived at Tropic of Capricorn, which was....no Hilton.
We only spent one night at Tropic of Capricorn and then we were off to the Yasawa Islands. Well, we tried, anyway. We arrived at Denarau Port, which is where all the boats depart for all Fiji islands and attempted to get on our boat, only to get rejected because our travel agent failed to let them know we were supposed to depart that day (Fiji only has one boat to go through all of the islands - departs once a day for the far islands like the Yasawas. Make sure you're booked for the exact days you plan on departing/arriving or else the boat might be full!). Luckily, they made room for us and we started our 4 hour cruise to the northern islands.
We got to pass through all of the other islands, which was awesome for the first half until I started getting sea sick. It was all completely worth it when we arrived at Blue Lagoon Resort on Nacula Island. All white sand, completely clear water, a beautiful resort and a welcome song by the Fijians. We snorkeled, hung around the beach and then had dinner. Everybody at the resort has dinner together and so we sat with a Kiwi family and the Fijian people served us our delicious dinner.
We started the next day off with a snorkeling trip on one of the Yasawa Islands outer reefs. We took a boat out about 20 minutes out and then all jumped out into the middle of the ocean. The reef here was, by far, the most amazing reef we had seen yet. The water was a little bit cooler - so about 77 degrees or so? (Compared to the 80 degrees at the shore... and compared to the 65 degree water in San Diego). After snorkeling for about an hour or so, we rode the boat closer to shore where they did a "fish feeding". They had us all jump out of the boats and then threw this corn bread/cake kind of stuff where hundreds of fish swarmed us to get the food. It was the craziest, scariest experience ever being surrounded by so many fearless fish. They're completely harmless, hungry fishies, but I was still slightly terrified they were going to eat my face.
After the snorkel trip, we went on a hike. The island was much bigger than South Sea Island and was pretty "hilly" so we wanted to hike up the hill to get a good view. From the resort, it didn't look very high and so we decided to go on our own. What I assumed was a brief stroll up a hill (in flip flops - or barefoot in Nate's case) ended up being about a 5 mile, treacherous hike. Okay, not so treacherous in regards to steepness or even general difficulty at all - but we were literally walking up a mountain of reeds taller than me. Granted I'm not very tall, but they were a pain in the ass, to say the least, and made this allegedly leisurely stroll extremely unpleasant. Of course, the view made up for it at the top. You can't complain about a hike (oh wait, I guess I just did..) when you see this from the top.
Our last night on Nacula Island, we had another delicious dinner and then did crab racing with wittle baby hermit crabs! They had us buy a hermit crab (FJD$5 - which would be donated to the schools on the islands. & BTW - their conversion rate is a little over half. So $5 Fiji = about $2.65 USD/AUD) and then all of them were put on the sand where a circle was drawn out. First to make it outside the circle wins. Our hermies made it to the final round (1st 12 to make it out of the ring the first round) and one of ours ended up getting 4th - not too shabby, but unfortunately only 1st-3rd got prizes.
The next morning, we went on a tour to the Sawa-I-Lau Caves. We took a boat about 30 minutes out and after our janky boat died about 3 times, we finally made it to the caves. We got out of the boat onto shore and then walked a short ways to a man made staircase that lead to the opening of the cave. You climb up and then back down the staircase into the cave. The bottom of the staircase is just water so you have to jump into the water. After our tour group of about 20 debated about who would jump in first (our guides decided to let us endure the entering part on our own while they waited by the boats), a girl around my age ended up going and we followed her in. The ceiling of the limestone caves were super high and we couldn't feel the bottom either. When the entire group was in, half of the group went through the underwater tunnel, which was about a meter under water and 2 meters long, into the other caves. One of our Fijian guides was on the other side with a flash light, and the other guide was on our side to help guide us through. I had a slight panic attack but made it through fine without somehow getting lost in the tunnel and drowning.
The other side of the caves were completely pitch black. It was also mildly terrifying because images of all of those scary movies where the tourists go on these adventures and then a boulder blocks the entrance and they all die - were involuntarily flashing through my head.
After buying some souvenirs made by the Fijian people and packing up our stuff, we were off to Island #4: Bounty Island. We decided to stay one night here - it's a smaller island close to the main island and it would be convenient for transportation to the airport the following day. Bounty Island was surprisingly nice. We had low expectations after our maaany hours spent on tripadvisor.com and other Fiji resort review websites. Not that these sites had so many bad things to say, but we were expecting a low budget resort on an island not nearly as amazing as the Yasawas. The resort may not have been as nice as Blue Lagoon or Hilton at all, but the people there were one of the nicest we had met. All Fijian people are super friendly and hospitable - everywhere you go, they all greet you with "Bula!" (which is their normal greeting). The Fijians at Bounty Island were especially friendly and really made you feel comfortable and at home.
We arrived in the late afternoon, so we mainly just lounged around the beach and bar. The dinner wasn't amazing but they sang us songs throughout the entire meal, which more than made up for it. After dinner, most of the people at the resort, including the employees, hung around the common room area and played various games like monopoly or pool ("snooker", as the Aussies say). A lot of people gathered around the shore for a while taking pictures of the little baby sharks that swam right up to the sand.
The next day we left Bounty Island, all too soon, and were back on our way to the main island. We hung around Denarau Port until leaving for the airport where we had to say goodbye to this beautiful country.
FIJI DOs & DON'Ts:
DO pack light (just carry ons) - the weather is usually so warm anyway and you'll be in your bathing suit 80% of the time! (& you'll save $ on not having to check luggage!)
DO visit the outer islands away from the main island - they're more expensive but definitely worth it! The Yasawa Islands were the definition of PARADISE.
DON'T be scared of the crazy humungous bugs - even though I was. The bird-sized bug that resided in the bathroom for almost 24 hours prevented me from being able to use the bathroom without an escort (AKA boyfriend).
DO bring your own alcohol - duty free!! It's cheaper this way and will save you lots of money.
DO bring a waterproof camera/go pro - hence all of my amazing snorkeling pics ;)
DON'T forget to negotiate a cab price before getting into the cab - they sometimes try to rip off tourists. Cabs shouldn't ever be more than about FJD$30.
DON'T stay on the super small islands for more than a night or two. They're small and you'll run out of things to do.
DO island hop as much as possible! Our original thought was that islands are islands, but each of them have different personalities & different things to do!
DO bring bug repellent - I got eaten alive.
I realize I just posted a blog entry, but I'm actually writing about fun stuff now & I felt like it was appropriate to start a new entry.
So as I said in my last entry, I've finally gotten over being homesick. I suppose the combination of finally making friends & going out & finally doing stuff, did the trick. I went out to the city at night for my first time and it was BEAUTIFUL. It's like a different world at night. There are people along the streets doing artwork or throwing fire. The water reflects the lights back and illuminates the city. When I got there, I finally felt like, this is what I came here for.
We went to a bar called "Ponyfish Island" and it was gorgeous. It was right in the middle of the water (I know, I get it, island) and was a pretty mellow bar. There are tables that line the edge of the bar so you can overlook the water. I hear that it's gorgeous during sunset so I'll definitely have to come back. All in all, there wasn't a cover charge, drinks weren't too crazy expensive & I was digging the atmosphere. Not bad for my first bar:)
This week was also O-Week (Orientation Week) at Deakin. Which is where you come on campus and go to Host Welcome Sessions, Meet the Faculty, Lab Safety Sessions & most importantly, where you get free food & other free stuff. I honestly tried to go to my Host sessions but I just couldn't get it right. I thought it was one day but it was another and I thought it was at this time but it was earlier.. But I hear I didn't miss anything too important. I think they're more aimed at first year students. Which I suppose I am, but I've been in college for 5 so I think I'll be okay. Anyway, they also have O-Week parties which sounded like they would be fun, but I went to one and I didn't think it was really worth the $30 they were charging. I went to the "Beach Party" which was held at a club in the city. I went with my friend, Kyle, & his roommate Syd. We ended up drinking a whole bottle of rum to ourselves so that may or may not have had something to do with any fun we had.
I also went to the beach for 2 days straight. We went to St Kilda's, which was really nice. Super clear water, semi-rough sand, minimal waves. There were a TON of people there and it was blazing hot. I spent most of the first day reading at the little outdoor ice cream/sandwich shop under the shade. I just finished reading the Hunger Games series and it was AMAZING. I'm so sad it's over. Anyway, the beach was really nice. Just a little too hot for my taste. People tell me that there are multiple holes in the ozone layer over Australia and I definitely believe them now. The sun just feels sooo much hotter here.
I also went to my first soccer game! (Told you I've been quite productive). And yes, they also call it soccer here. Their team name is actually the "Socceroos". Our $10 concession (AKA Student) tickets got us on Level 1 a few rows up right by the goal. Which, I didn't mind at all. I guess it's better to have higher seats, perhaps on the sides so you can see what's going on better, but I enjoyed our seats. I really wanted to catch a ball but it only even came near us when they were warming up before the game started. Anyway, it was Australia's national team playing Saudi Arabia. I guess it was a qualifier game for the World Cup but Australia already qualified, so it would determine if Saudi Arabia would. It was definitely a lot more mellow than I thought it would be. I guess soccer isn't too crazy here in Australia. Saudi Arabia, however, were crazy. They were singing and chanting the entire time. They lost, though, which sucks because the next 2 years before the World Cup doesn't even really mean anything for them now. The end of the game was the only time the Aussie's were even loud at all. They did their "Aussie Aussie Aussi, OI OI OI!!" chant a few times and that's as crazy as they got. Anyway, it's been a GREAT week. School unfortunately starts next week, but let's be real, I'm not really here for the "studying" part, just here to be abroad:)
After two very long first days in Australia, I left on Monday, the 20th (aka my 23rd Birthday!) for the Beach Welcome Program in Lorne. I'm not exactly thrilled about my living situation (long story that I'll possibly discuss later) so I was pretty excited to get out and start exploring Australia.
This Beach Welcome was for all of the new International students at Deakin so I was anxious to finally make some friends (I feel like I'm a freshman in college all over again). We headed out for the 2 hour bus ride to Lorne and I was happy to see that everyone was just as excited to make new friends as well.
We drove down the Great Ocean Road, which I guess is comparable to the 101/1/Pacific Coast Highway in California (except 10 times more amazing), to get to Lorne. The road was extremely windy so I unfortunately had to miss a lot of the scenery due to the motion sickness I tend to get on vehicles. We arrived and it is easily the most beautiful beach I've ever been to. Sparkling blue water and flawless sand.
The first day was pretty relaxing; just had free time where we mostly lounged on the beach and mingled. We all had different housing, ranging from a nice hotel room to legitimate TENTS. About 12 of us stayed in 2 separate cottages, which were quaint and more cabin like than anything. They were cozy and comfortable, so I was happy. We had to climb a ladder to get to our beds at the top, not to mention climb 2 ginormous hills to get there, but I was just glad we weren't in tents. These cockatoos are EVERYWHERE, and they are fearless (so we fed them). The first night we got a case of "goon" (which is box wine, the only cheap alch in Australia) and probably finished off half the 4 litres :)
The second day was definitely an intense day. We woke up at 7 to eat breakfast at 730 and then started our first activity: mountain biking. I have a small fear of biking, mostly due to my older sister, Mallory, forcing me to ride down a steep hill when I was younger, knowing I would fall, and then, of course, falling at the bottom. But I went anyway, and was SO glad I did. We rode around the beach and to a pier where we watched people fish (& catch stingrays!) and then rode around some semi-rough terrain up and down hills.
Our second activity was surfing :) I almost forgot how much I loved it. I'm obviously not amazing, and we obviously surfed little baby waves, but it felt amazing being able to catch a bunch of waves. I definitely need to start surfing more once/if I go back to San Diego.
The third and final activity we did was surf kayaking. I took a sea kayaking class last semester and I thought it would be the same. Definitely NOT. This was possibly the most intense sport-like thing I've ever done, not to mention the most terrifying. My friend, Rachel, & I went together, which was a big mistake because our combined weight of 200 pounds was NOT enough to weigh down our boat. When we first paddled out to the surf, we got flipped over almost immediately. We tried two more times and finally caught a couple waves, but kept getting flipped over. Everybody was done about 30 minutes into it because the conditions were pretty bad and everybody was getting destroyed. It was still fun, regardless:)
After that, we had a more mellow night to rest up for the next days' tour. After getting all of our luggage together the next morning and semi-cleaning our cottage (not much housekeeping here), we were off on the Great Ocean Road once again.
Our first stop was Apollo Bay, which was another beautiful beach. After that, we went to Maits Rest Rainforest. It's so crazy how beaches and rainforests can be so close together. In San Diego, the only nature around is usually just palm trees. In Australia, there are so many beautiful trees and scenery bordering the beaches.
After that, we went and saw the 12 Apostles. It's all limestone that has been eroded by the waves after the years. It's crazy what mother nature can do. We stopped at a few different points to see it because it stretches out across the beach quite a ways. It seemed so surreal being there. It was such a perfect, picturesque view that it seemed like it could be a backdrop.
We were pretty happy to go home after that. It had only been 2 1/2 days and we saw and did more than I've done in a few months time back home. I would say it made for quite a successful trip:)