So for the past few months, some could say that I was living the dream. If studying abroad in Brisbane wasn’t enough, a three month University summer break from November to February meant that I could travel across Oceania and Asia.
It was kind of like a mini-gap year experience as I visited 7 countries and spent 79 days on the road.
And if you’re wondering what that would look like, well it looks a little like this…
Now if that was all a bit quick then let me tell you about each stop of my journey…
The first stop on my journey was a hop down the coast to Sydney. Here me and my friends did the obvious tourist attractions, went to Bondi Beach and hung out in cool secret bars.
Fun fact: I have now been to the Sydney Opera House more times than the man who designed it. Jørn Utzon, the designer of the Sydney Opera House, never actually visited the finished building after falling out with the government at the time over escalating costs.
South East Coast Road Trip!
Instead of flying straight down to Melbourne, we took the long way down taking the time to over 1,000 km in the space of just over a week.
So we hired cars and camped along the way as we saw the Blue Mountains, Wilson’s Prom and The Great Ocean Road. We also conquered (the almost impossible to pronounce) Mount Kosciuszko, the tallest mountain in Australia.
Fun Fact: Wilson’s Prom, a beautiful national park on a peninsula is the southernmost point of mainland Australia. It was here where we bumped into a womenswear photo shoot on a deserted beach and unintentionally got used for a few practice shots!
Melbourne is probably one of my favourite cities in Australia. Although this time around we were only there for a few days, its street art and alleyways were enchanting!
Here we stayed in an apartment in the city centre for a few days which was perfect! One day we even had a mini Christmas day where we cooked a roast dinner, played games and watched movies. It may have been 6th December but we had to make use of having a place to ourselves in the festive period!
Fun Fact: We were lucky enough to have our apartment overlooking one of the city’s biggest tourist attractions, Hosier Lane. Whilst we were there, we saw a new piece of art being created in the pouring rain. This may be Banksy or some other big name street artist but we’ll never know!
I wasn’t really sure what to expect from Tasmania before I went. I wasn’t that fussed about going but my friends dragged me along and I was so glad that I went!
This Australian state isn’t massive compared to its mainland counterparts but what it lacks in size, it more than makes up in terms of beauty!
We took a week to explore this marvellous landscape in two groovy camper vans…
Fun Fact: Whilst in Tasmania, we spent the day scaling Cradle Mountain, ranked as one of Australia’s most beautiful places by Lonely Planet.
This was an exciting stop on our trip as it was the first time that we had left Australia!
Here we spent 3 weeks exploring the whole country on the Kiwi experience tour bus, spending a day or two in each town along the way.
It was a jam packed few weeks full of bungee jumping, street luging, lakes, mountains, Lord of the Rings, Maori Culture, hiking… I could go on!
This was also our destination for the festive season including Christmas Day and New Years which was exciting and very different to back home! I don’t think Christmas day barbecues on the beach will be much of a feature in many more Christmases to come!
Fun Fact: One of the last attractions that we visited in New Zealand was the Hobbiton movie sets which were used in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies. There are 44 hobbit holes dug into the side of the hill and you walk exactly the same steps that the characters made in the film. Even though I have yet to see any of the films it was used for (pathetic really I know), it’s amazing to see the lengths movies go to to create their sets.
Fiji was a welcome rest from the exhausting action packed New Zealand. Days generally consisted of exploring tiny little islands, laying in a hammock, going snorkelling in the reef and playing Beach Volleyball.
It was a struggle, it really was.
Fun fact: The above picture was taken on the island where the Tom Hanks film Castaway was filmed. Despite it being another film which I have not yet seen (I should really watch some more films…), the ocean views more than made up for it!
Australian Open (Melbourne)
With a few days before the Asia leg of my trip, I couldn’t resist going to back to Melbourne for a few days for the Australian Open whilst the others recuperated back in Brisbane!
If you haven’t heard of it, the Australian Open is one of the biggest and most important Tennis tournaments in the world! It’s basically Australia’s version of Wimbledon!
I had a ground pass for the first three days of the tournament, which allowed me to see players like Kei Nishikori, Gael Monflis and Alexander Zverv amongst others.
Fun fact: The last match I saw, I had front row seats for the Brit Dan Evans and his win against world no.7 Marin Cilic. The win which was very unexpected for Evans and played a massive part in the player’s best ever run in a Grand Slam.
Vietnam was definitely something else! It was my first time in Asia and it was probably unlike anywhere where I had been before with crazy moped drivers and a unrecognisable language to deal with!
We only had 10 days in the country, so we didn’t have much time to waste! We visited the two main cities; Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City and visited congested alleyways, beautiful bays, peaceful villages and some really interesting war museums!
Fun fact: We were lucky enough for our visit to the country to coincide with the Lunar New Year celebrations. When we explored Hanoi in particular, we witnessed a lot of traditions which take place at this time of year. One of which is burning fake money for good luck. Unfortunately some of these notes don’t get burnt and get taken by the wind, leaving them on the pavement somewhere! The amount of times I thought that I had found some money on the floor only for it to be fake was heartbreaking!
If you thought that we rushing through Vietnam in 10 days was bad enough then we (somehow) managed to squeeze Cambodia into 4! It took a lot of precision and planning to get it right but we did it with time to spare!
We spent one day in the capital Phonm Penh learning about the country’s devastating recent history and the rest of the time at Siem Reap where the famous Angkor Wat Temple complex is located.
(Not so) fun fact: During the genocides in the country throughout the 1970’s, it is estimated that around 2 million people died. That’s around a quarter of the country’s population. Seeing the prisons and the fields in Phonm Penh where these people were killed was incredibly powerful and touching.
Malaysia was kind of an unintentional stop on our journey as we were only there for a few hours whilst waiting for our connecting flight. However, this didn’t stop us from getting out and about and exploring the wonderful city of Kuala Lumpur.
Fun Fact: The Petronas towers are the tallest twin skyscrapers in the world and it was cool to see them right up close! Even if the observation deck was closed on the day that we visited!
And that’s it for the quick whistle stop tour of my travels!
It was a great experience and I would encourage everyone to take the time to do a trip like this if you can!
Thank you to all of the brilliant people that I travelled with and everyone who I met along the way 🙂