Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Time For New Adventures

About a month ago, I accounced that I had been lacking inspiration to keep up my blogging. I think this became evident in my lack of posts. I had began to feel obliged to write instead of feeling inspired to write. For quite a while now, I have felt very limited in what I could write about. Anna's Ventures was all about travel, more specifically it was all about Bali. Travel is definitely a big part of my life but I there are so many great things I do in between travelling. A lot of these things are done in my home city of Perth and since I've started working full time and have less time to travel, I've begun to appreciate these things more. So I decided the time has come for new adventures and new aspirations.

I'd like to introduce to you my new blog, Anna's Perth and other ventures. My new focus is sharing my Perth lifestyle with you all and share all the things I love about my city. Travel will always be a part of my life (being a travel agent and all...) so when I travel, I will continue to share my adventures but only through Anna's Perth as I simply don't have the time to maintain two blogs. Blogging is hard work and time consuming but so enjoyable when you're writing about something you love and I'm looking forward to having the opportunity to take Anna's Perth and other ventures further.

I'd love for you all to follow me over to my new Facebook page and Instagram and I hope I'll continue to inspire your travels but also inspire you to explore your own backyard just as I plan on doing.



Friday, 12 December 2014

Lembongan Highlights

As you know, I recently got back from my first solo trip to Nusa Lembongan, Bali (see here). I absolutely loved my time over there but as all holidays do, there were definitely a few highlights.

Lembongan Island is the perfect destination if you're after an awesome Bali holiday that comes with the usual beautiful beaches, good food, stunning sunsets, lovely people and a relaxing holiday but away from the craziness that usually comes with being in Bali. Since I was there alone, I really had the opportunity to slow down and take everyday as it came which is exactly what I did.

I started off my holiday with a delicious lunch at my favourite Lembongan restaurant; The Deck. With one of the best views on the island and an awesome new addition, there was no better way to kick things off. Nothing screams "Hey, I'm on Lembongan!" than lunch with a killer view like this.

My hotel, Lembongan Reef Bungalows, shared the same beautiful view!

I hired a scooter to explore the island and its neighbour, Nusa Ceningan. There's no better way to explore Lembongan than on a scooter and with the island's quiet roads and lack of traffic, if you're comfortable on a scooter it's pretty damn safe.

I took some time out to relax at the quirky Le Pirate Beach Club on Nusa Ceningan. There is no place like it. I would love to stay here at some time but you don't have to be a hotel guest to use their facilities. Such a perfect place to be with its gorgeous infinity pool, cool vibe and good food. It was here that I met some beautiful people that I went snorkelling with the following day.


The snorkelling was amazing. Swimming with manta rays off the rugged coast of Nusa Penida and stunning colourful fish in the waters by the mangrove forest of Lembongan, it was not something I could miss.


I witnessed an absolutely stunning sunset which I was so content to enjoy by myself.

Back on the scooter, I spent a morning at The Palms, Ceningan for some more relaxation with a view. I'd really recommend visiting The Palms, particularly to those with kids. It's a bit tough to get to with the bad roads but once there, it's a great place to hang out. With its comfy and shaded days beds and pool with a stunning view (complete with inflatables for the kiddies), it's the perfect place to kill a few hours.

And lastly, I relaxed with a beautiful spa treatment at Batu Karang resort, with a slimy yet refreshing seaweed scrub and fresh ingredients facial with yoghurt, avocado and cucumber. It was the perfect way to end my trip.

I cannot recommend enough to take a few days to experience what Lembongan has to offer.


Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Flying Solo

It's been almost 4 weeks since I got back from my trip to Bali in October and within that time, I've already been back again. My names Anna and I'm a Bali-holic. Anyway, this time round, I took the leap into travelling solo. Although I've "travelled" alone before, I've never truly took a trip by myself. I was incredibly excited to experience the world of solo-travelling and I can honestly say I was not the slightest bit nervous about it. I was going to a place I knew and loved, a place I was very familiar with. There was people I knew there to look after me if anything went wrong, if I got sick I knew where to go. Of course something could still go wrong but I am home now in one piece and am happy to say my first solo holiday was a huge success. My verdict on travelling alone? I absolutely loved it. 

I decided to take this trip after I woke up from a dream of being on Lembongan alone and having an amazing time. It's not very often I "follow my dreams" but in this case, I decided to take it as a sign that I had to go. Any excuse for another trip to Bali, right?

I realise travelling alone would not be for everyone but having always been a very independent person, happy with my own company, I was nothing but excited for it. Of course I can't say the same for my parents who were not all too keen on the idea and did attempt to talk me out of it. But my mind was made up; I was going.  

There was something truly wonderful about travelling alone. It may sound selfish, but thinking only about what you want to do, where you want to go, not having to share your food, getting up and what time suits you, going to bed hem you're ready. Be honest, who wouldn't love that? I know I certainly did. I had the chance to meet some lovely people but more importantly, I had the chance to really spend some quality time with me. 

 Before I went on this trip I made a promise to myself that I wouldn't block out the world by having my nose stuck in a book all the time or by having earphones in so I wouldn't have to talk to anyone. I promised myself I would open myself up to meeting new people and seeing new things, and that's exactly what I did. I learnt a few valuable lessons while I was away: 

Being comfortable with your own company is an incredible thing. 
I can honestly say that not once did I feel lonely, I never felt that I didn't know what to do with my time or with myself. I was nothing but content through my entire trip. 

You have to laugh when things don't go the way you expect. 
I had a moment while I was on Lembongan when I thought I had lost my scooter key. There I was, digging through the sand trying to find it, calling the scooter rental guy asking if he had a spare one, getting flustered that I couldn't find it. In the end, I had left the key in the scooter ignition. I felt like an idiot but I forced myself to take a breathe and laugh. What more could I do?

You have to be open to meeting new people and experiencing new things. 
Isnt that, after all, what travel is all about? It's one of the things you come home telling your family and friends, it's how you make your trip all that much more special. One of the beautiful things about travelling is sharing the experience with someone. When you're travelling alone, who do you have to share it with? The people you meet along the way of course. 

People watching and eaves dropping are legitimate hobbies. 
When I finished my book, I could not help but watch the world go by and listen to people's conversations. Maybe not the most polite thing to do but it bought such a smile to my face to hear people talking about how much they were loving their trip. When you have no one to share your holiday with, you have to find joy in people sharing their holidays. 

Would I travel alone again? Without a doubt. 

Stay tuned for my Lembongan highlights!

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Bali, Day 5: Friends- New and Old

My last full day in Bali. I'd definitely feel more sad about it if I wasn't coming back again in 3 weeks time. Mum and I were up bright and early again, ready to start the day. We had decided yesterday to head down to Sand for breakfast so we could eat overlooking the ocean. It was so nice and quiet on the beach, the restaurant had beautiful music playing; a perfect atmosphere. I was feeling so content. We ordered breakfast and sat back patiently for it to come. Mum had a beautiful fruit salad that had a touch of cinnamon through it. So yummy. She had bought along her own gluten free bread for French toast. I started off with a fresh coconut and ordered an egg white omelette which turned out to be more like scrambled eggs because none of the "fillings" were actually in it. Ther service here was great and we both loved our breakfast. While mum headed off for a hair creme bath, I decided to stay and enjoy the vibe. 

Breakfast cost about $20 which was the same as what we paid yesterday for our very mediocre breakfast at the Glass House. I happily wandered back to the hotel and plonked by the pool to relax until mum returned. I had the pool mostly all to myself. I passed the time reading my book and hopping in and out of the pool when the sun got too much. One hour passed, two and then three hours before mum came back again. I was beginning to think she had gotten lost! But no she just got caught up shopping, bumping into people and more shopping. 


It was time for lunch and even though I was in Sanur, I was heading back to Seminyak/Canggu to go to La Finca. I absolutely love this restaurant for its delicious tapas and good service. Even though the traffic was horrendous getting there, it was so worth it. It wasn't long before I made a new little friend. As soon as I had arrived, a little cat had approached me seeking some love and attention. Being a self-confessed cat lady, I was all for it. She was so cuddley and purry. The moment I started ignoring her, she was up to my lap asking for more. What a cutie. Yes, I did scrub my hands afterwards before eating lunch. 

The menu at La Finca always excites my tastebuds; so many yummy things to choose from! First choice was a Pintxos De Iberico which was a bite-sized bruschetta type thing was some delicious cured meat on top. 

I stuck to a few favourites with the Spanish Meatballs, Patatas Bravas, Crispy Squid and some new dishes with Galician style octopus and chorizo and cinnamon croquettes. 

Everything is so delicious as always but I was left a little disappointed by the octopus. It was maybe a little bit overcooked but it really could have done with a bit of moisture. Just a drizzle of oil with some seasoning would have made it perfect. Nevertheless, I am so happy with the food, some of which I shared with my new little friends, mostly because she wouldn't leave me alone but how can you say no to that face?!

The staff at La Finca call a taxi to take me back to Sanur but I've got one stop along the way. After getting my Mimpi Mannis shoes yesterday, one of my friends begs me to get her a pair and being the generous friend I am that loves giving presents, I agree. I ask the taxi to take me back via Oberoi Street so I can jump out and grab her a pair but he tries telling me that Oberoi is a one way street that he can't go down. This is a new rule that came in sometime between when I was last there in March and now. The shop was way too far away to walk but he doesn't seem to care. He goes a back way, drops me off at a gang and tells me to walk and then I can get another taxi. Well he clearly doesn't want my money. I give him no tip at all and no thanks. Lucky the walk from where he dropped me wasn't far at all, I get the shoes and a Blue Bird drives past. Perfect timing. The traffic getting back into Sanur isn't great but I make it. 

We have plans tonight to meet some friends for drinks before dinner. Our first stop is The Regent, which is quite a new property in Sanur. I can't say I would ever stay here- it's not my style at all and quite out of my price range- but the Happy Hour they have is great. They've got a great range of cocktails that are buy one, get one free plus free canapés throughout. Happy Hour is out on a terrace that overlooks the beach. They have a couple of guys singing acoustic and the service is fantastic. We chat away, get a couple of cocktails each and enjoy the canapés that come around. I sneak off for 10 minutes to do a quick room inspection (huge, nice view but not very attractive decor) before returning to enjoy another cocktails. The view is beautiful and the sky gets a gorgeous hint of pink as the sun sets behind us. 

I paid $15 for my 2-for-1 cocktails plus the canapés which I'm really happy with. It's a lovely place to come for evening drinks. From The Regent, we wander south along the beach path to one of our favourites bars: the Bamboo Bar at the Prama Hotel (previously Sanur Bsach Hotel) where they have swings around the bar. We meet up with more friends that have come to swing with us. A few drinks, a few laughs before we catch a taxi to Sand restaurant for dinner. It's a very late dinner and I wasn't particularly hungry but when do I ever turn down food?! I decided to choose some fresh squid to be grilled and I'm so happy I did. It was really beautifully cooked and had delicious flavours. Everyone is really happy with their meals and mum and I once again paid about $20. Not bad at all. 

It was about 10:30 when we decide to call it a night and wander back to our hotel. For once I'm not suffering from Bali blues because my next trip is well within sight. 

Monday, 27 October 2014

Bali, Day 4: When Love Lets You Down

It was an early start for us today. We were booked in for a bicycle ride with Sanur Cycle Tours along the beach. Mum and I, as I'm sure you know by now, love getting up to watch the sunrise so we had chosen to do the Sunrise Tour. This tour usually begins around the Inna Bali Beach area but as we were the only ones on the ride, our guide Putu met us at our hotel. Our bikes had been delivered the evening before so we were ready to go. We rode down to the beach to begin where I caught the last of the sunrise. It was just stunning. The beach was already alive with locals watching the sunrise, eating their breakfast. It was beautiful. 

One of the owners of the business came to meet us at the beach where she had helmets for us (safety first!) and a light snack for the ride. It was time to get moving. We rode North along the beach, admiring the view and watching people taking selfies, where it got busier and busier. The path was packed with locals which is what happens on a Sunday. We managed to get past them all and we rode as far as the beach path goes which meets with a black sand beach. More locals were there enjoying the water and having some family time. This is one of the things I love about Sanur on a Sunday. 

We turned our bikes around and headed back south, but took a backroad path to avoid some of the busyness but it wasn't long until we found it again. We weaved our way through the people, using our bells like new toys (said Putu). We kept on riding until we were right at the South end of the path. Once again, the beach here was packed with locals which was a beautiful sight. Their little beach warungs were opening, grilling corn cobs (I must try to get one of these beach I go!), little kids riding around, people wading into the shallow water. I could sit for hours and watch this. 

We cracked open our snacks and had a look at what was in our little treasure chest. We had been packed a cold towel, a water bottle, some fruit and some Indonesian snacks. Delish. What a nice touch to add as well, especially for a ride at this time when we're bound to get a bit peckish before breakfast. Putu had planned on taking us to a bar in Sanur called the Manshed. Not to have a drink but to have a look at the old cars and motorbikes but mum and I are not old cars and bikes kind of people. I think it would be great if there had been a back-up plan in place at this time. During this ride, you are supposed to stop at a local restaurant, Sweet Magnolia, for breakfast but for some reason or another Putu didn't take us. Instead we got back on our bikes and rode back along the street. The ride lasted for a couple of hours but was in no way strenuous so you definitely don't have to be particularly fit to do it. Although mum and I, bring Sanur regulars, had already seen most of what we saw along the ride, I think it would be great for newbies to Sanur to get their bearings and see what is beyond their hotel. The bikes and helmets were in excellent condition and you are also able to hire the bikes on a daily basis. Some even have child seats on the back. 

Sanur Cycle Tours have got a huge range of rides (see here) and it may have been more beneficial for mum and I to go on a different one so we could see something a bit different but you live and learn! We had a great ride nonetheless, Putu was lovely to ride along with, chatting and making jokes, making sure we both alright. I'd definitely do a ride again but would choose something like the Morning Tour so I could see a part of Sanur I haven't seen before. 

When we got back to the hotel, we were well and truly ready for breakfast. We decided to just head next door to The Glass House. I've always wanted to give this restaurant a go, especially since it has recently been renovated. We took a seat outside but soon moved in after the noise from the street was just too much (I swear my hearing is more sensitive since being in Candi Dasa). I ordered an eggs benedict bagel and mum ordered a muesli stack with yogurt and fruit using her own gluten free muesli from home. I quite liked the feel of the restaurant and the menu had a nice range of options but when our meals came out literally 5 minutes after we ordered them, I was a bit concerned. There is no way that in 5 minutes, these people managed to toast a bagel, cook some bacon and poach 2 eggs plus put it all together on the plate. I do not believe for a second that my breakfast was freshly cooked. Mum was happy enough with her breakfast- it would be hard to get a fruit salad with muesli and yoghurt wrong- but was wasn't happy about paying $10 for it when she used her own muesli. You wouldn't even be happy about paying that in Australia. So no, we won't be going back. 

We left feeling a bit ripped off but it was done. It was time to freshen up in the pool after our ride. I got my book, got a towel and a lounge (no hogs today!) and had a nice dip. I enjoyed the sun and the water for an hour or so before it was time for me to get dressed for an afternoon of shopping. Our guide Putu from our ride had organised one of his friends to pick up Mum, Hilary, Nadine and I and take us into Seminyak today. I had booked a table at a newish restaurant just near Seminyak Square called Sisterfields. I'd heard a lot about it and seen lots of photos of the place which looked really cook. Given we had some dietary requirements to cater for (coeliac and vegetarians), we thought this would be a great place to go. Lucky I had booked a table because the place was quite packed. We ordered drinks of fresh juices and decided on our meals. The menu had a big range of options from all-day breakfast to salads and burgers. There was really something for everyone. I decided on  crispy soft shell crab hawker roll, mum had a corgette, mint, feta and falafel salad, Hilary ordered a chicken schnitzel sandwich with gluten free bread and Nadine got a pan seared fillet of fish plus we got some polenta fries to share. The service was fantastic and everything from our juice to fries to fish and salads were so yummy. What an awesome choice of restaurant for lunch. Everyone was so happy with their meals and the price was really reasonable. 

After lunch, it was time to hit the shops. We explored the ones right next door to the restaurant before heading to Oberoi street. I bought some gorgeous rings from a shop called My Cup Of Love which was a shop of bits and pieces; cushion covers, jewellery, chinaware, mugs, bags and purses, and I got some coconut (my current obsessive) body scrub and moisturiser from a shop called Cocona. We stocked up on DVDs and wandered along the street. I'm proud to say I didn't do a huge amount of shopping, but what I did buy, I'm very happy with. I got a gorgeous maxi dress from one of my favourite shops Sophia & Indigo. I had gone in here in March and met the loveliest shop assistant and when I showed her a photo of us together from March, she laughed and thanked me profusely for coming back. She is just such a beautifully happy person. I also grabbed a very light linen beach towel that will be great for those summer beach days. 


I looked in shops here and there not getting much before heading back to Seminyak Square to meet our driver. There was one more place we all wanted to go; Mimpi Mannis. It was a gorgeous shoe shop that just opened recently but was a bit too far along Oberoi Street to walk. We had all been eyeing their shoes off for months so were eager to get in there and buy some. The shop is tiny but jam packed full of goodies. So many pretty sandals to choose from, purses, clothes, sunglasses. Deciding which to get was difficult. I decided on 2 pairs of sandals and was so happy to find them quite soft, not like the usual Bali sandals that can be quite hard. The shoes are about $35 and so pretty!

After buying our shoes, it was time to head back to Sanur. We got back in great time and half an hour before I had a booking at my favourite Koa Spa. I had a quick dip to refresh before walking over. Koa has recently extended their spa to keep up with the demand as they were getting very popular. The area where the 3 massage cubicles use to be is now an area for manicures and pedicures. They have a new upstairs area for their massages. I was really looking forward to my massage as every one I had had previously was so good. I was directed into one of the new cubicles and was ready to get started. I'm very sad to say that I was left disappointed. The extension of the spa obviously means more staff and this one just did not have that touch. They've completely changed their hot stone massage and it was no where near as good as it use to be. They were a bit stingy with the stones; where they use to massage you with the stones and leave them on very specific parts of your body ie all along your spine, up your legs, in your hands and up your arms, they don't do that anymore. The number of times I had to ask the girl to take the stones off before I suffered from 2nd degree burns was ridiculous. I really hate it when a place you use to love so much lets you down. I don't know if I'll be returning now but I'll definitely be reviewing them so they can hopefully improve and get their standard back up to what it use to be. 

I had a little while to relax before dinner. After freshening up, mum wanted to head to the beach for a drink. We went to Sand which is along the beach path. It is a really nice setting here but unfortunately my cider was not cold at all. Nevertheless, it was really nice and we decided to come here for breakfast in the morning. 

We wandered along the street to one of my favourite restaurants; the Art Cafe. We were meeting some friends for dinner and I was, as always, really looking forward it having chocolate cake. The service here is always fantastic and the food never disappoints me. I stuck to my promise and got the beef rendang for my main. The flavours were absolutely beautiful but the meat was a bit chewy and not tender enough. Mona Lisa remains as my favourite beef rendang. Chocolate cakes were ordered around the table and they were as good as ever. Gooey goodness. Always beautifully presented and perfectly cooked. I was a happy girl. 

By the time we got back to the hotel, it was 10:30 and time to hit the hay. Tomorrow is another beautiful day in Bali!