Trip Pulse: Australia Part 1/3 – Western Australia with Kids

Australia with Kids – One can travel indefinitely here

Our RTW trip brought us to a five week adventure in Australia, a truly interesting and welcoming country with breathtaking beauty. Known for crocs, poisonous toads, sharks, flying boomerangs and Aboriginal culture – we, like most people were very intrigued by this distant land.

We loved the 35,876 km coastline which offered sun, sea and surf in abundance! Apart from the lively beach culture, Aussies love their cricket, footy (Australian football) and Vegemite, extremely salty and savoury taste made from yeast extract.

Austin and Amie – a big thank you from us three! Your warmth and hospitality was reflective of Australia’s open and welcoming nature to travellers. Speaking of ‘nature’, we experienced some really heavy downpour on the East Coast.

Western Australia – Awe-inspiring beauty and extraordinary experiences

If you’re visiting Australia with children, you’ll love it! From Singapore, we headed to Perth, an isolated city, home to circa 1.7 million people but quite far from the hustle and bustle of the country’s bigger cities. Blessed by the Fremantle Doctor (west southerly wind), this location resembles Southern California for its beautiful beachside drives, excellent infrastructure and affluent society.

Western Australia Piers

We met some very friendly folk like Maryellen and Oli at Mullaloo Beach and Finn and Jon (fellow couchsurfers) who shared with us some invaluable tips about Australia and their own travel experiences. Thank you for inviting us!

 

Keep in mind that Perth is quite far from other locations worth visiting (a day’s drive at times). This is important to note, especially if you’re planning to be in Australia with kids.

Western Australia Dinner with Couchsurfing friends

We drove past the amazing sand dunes of Lancelin, have seen the Pinnacles (unreal  limestone formations) in the Nambung National Park, experienced the Margaret River one of Australia’s most important wine regions and walked on a 2 km long Busselton Jetty – which happens to be the longest wooden pier in the Southern Hemisphere.

There are tons of other attractions and experiences like wine tasting in which you can indulge if you have more time. 

Our journey brought us to Cape Leeuwin (most south-westerly mainland point of the Australian Continent, 18,500 km away from Toronto. This was the furthest point from home on our journey.

Western Australia Cape Leeuwin

It was worth to go this far as we enjoyed every moment, Western Australia is as big and interesting as one’s imagination.

Australia with Children – Never a dull moment!

 

We headed out to Lancelin which is a small fishing village popular for jeep tours on sand dunes. People often surf these dunes on modified surf boards. Niko enjoyed running around on the dunes, slipping and sliding along the way.

Western Australia Lancelin Sand dunes

He also enjoyed bike riding in Perth and the many playgrounds in the region. Apart from the white sand beaches, Niko loved the Whiteman Park in the Swan Valley and the Caversham Wildlife Park.

Things to Keep in Mind – Travel tips for Western Australia

If you’re in Australia on your round the world trip it’s best to rent a car as organized tours are rather expensive. You can get a detailed map and suggested travel itineraries at any tourist information centres that dot the country. However, if you’re planning a road trip, book your accommodations well in advance, so you can take a break in-between those long drives.

Western Australia delivered all that it had promised and more!

If you have similar adventures from Western Australia, please share them in the comments section below. Thanks!

Here are some of our photos from our Western Australia:

Malaysia Part 2 – Langkawi NYE on our Around the World Voyage with Niko.

Our around the world voyage brings us to Langkawi where we welcome the new year in style!

During our trip to Malaysia we headed to Langkawi Island which is a short three hour boat ride from Penang. Also known as the ‘land of one’s wishes’, Langkawi is the laid back cousin of tourist-oriented Penang. This archipelago of 99 islands offers breathtaking white sand beaches, comfortably warm yet murky waters, amazing mountain-top views and beautiful waterfalls. Most of our stay was centered on Panai Cenang Beach.

Langkawi Beaches 2012

Living life island style

With the sun, surf, yummy seafood and cheap beer – this really is paradise! (Langkawi is a duty free island) We ate prawns that weighed over 500 grams! Can you believe that? There’s lot of other delicious cuisine ranging from Malaysian, Indian, Middle Eastern and even organic. When you travel with kids it helps to find a wide range of food!

Langkawi delights (Malaysia) - Around the World with Kid

We rented out a car and it took us only five hours to get around the island as there was surprisingly very little traffic. It was an exhilarating ride as we got a chance to explore some beautiful beaches such as Tanjung Rhu and Pantai Kok as well as some waterfalls such as Air Terjun Temurun. Don’t forget to carry cash as there are only a few ATMs on the island and they may decide to stop working on the same day! Yes, that happened on our third day there.

Beach bound New Year’s bash

Living like locals, we celebrated New Year’s Eve on the beach amidst airborne lanterns and spectacular fireworks. When you travel with children you’ll enjoy all the little things as well. On seeing the splendid (but little loud and scary) fireworks display, Niko said ‘Thank you fireworks for going boom high up in the sky!’ With bright bonfires and little tea-lights in beach holes spelling ‘2012’, there was certainly magic in the air. We felt blessed to welcome the New Year in such a joyous and relaxed atmosphere.

Langkawi NYE 2012

Things to do with kids on Langkawi – Niko finds fun and friends on the beach!

Travel with kids is always fun but it was also nice to see him being independent and making friends on the beach. He really had a blast building and breaking sandcastles and frolicking in the warm waters. The Langkawi Underwaterworld was another hot favourite and I’m guessing he wanted to stay a lot longer! During New Year’s he loved his new glow-in-the-dark shooting arrows which we bought from the vendor on the beach.

Making our way to Melaka

For a different experience on our round the world trip we decided to take the 14 hour night bus ride to Melaka, a colonial trading post of the English, Portuguese and the Dutch. Although we didn’t get much sleep on the bus, we headed out bright and early to explore this World Heritage Site. You’ll find a strong colonial influence in this location especially in the architecture. We loved walking down the narrow alleys of the heritage centre at No 8 Heeren Street which were filled with art and antique shops running along the river bank. With beautiful sights, affordable street food and communal harmony, Melaka is a worthy stop-over destination even when you travel with children.

Flower Bikes in Melaka

A bucketful of Malaysian memories

Due to the monsoons, we were unable to visit the amazing Perhentian Islands beaches, Borneo and neighbouring beautiful Sipadan island. However, we’re happy that we have a reason to return to this wonderful and culturally rich country. We’re continuing on our round the world trip and carrying away happy memories of this Asian delight. What a great way to spend Christmas and New Year! We’ll cherish these experiences for a life time.

If you have similar or relevant around the world with children adventures, please share them in the comments section below. Thanks!

Here are some of our photos from our Langkawi and Melaka trip:

To see all pictures from our Malaysia voyage, please go to here

Trip Pulse: Bali mesmerized us! An amazing place on our around the world voyage

Bali – Sweet Smells and Soothing Sounds

Our around the world trip brought us to Bali, a paradise filled with exotic and mystical beauty. We were immersed in its unique culture and mesmerized by the ribbon of beaches that surrounds this holiday getaway.

Although Bali’s past was influenced by the Dutch and Japanese rule, it managed to differentiate itself and stay true to its heritage. For instance, a Balinese woman in traditional Balinese sarong, still places an offering or ‘ngejot’ at various places around her house as an offering to God, a way to give thanks, to help expel negative energy and to protect the home from evil.

The Bali God offering

While at a hairdresser, I picked up an English book written by English-speaking expats. It described the Balinese New Year and how, instead of the usual revelry and celebrations, the locals observed a Day of Silence so they could usher in the next year with fasting, meditation and quiet contemplation. This act in itself reflects the nature and mindset of the Balinese people.

The Beachy and Touristy South

Folks from around the world, head to Kuta for its swells. For other tourist oriented spots you can explore Surin or visit Nusa Dua don’t expect the true essence of Bali. There are several kitschy stores where you can buy counterfeit t-shirts and Raybans (I’m already on my second pair!). Street vendors don’t really take ‘No’ for an answer so be prepared to purposefully walk past.

Natasza and Niko playing in Bali waves near Uluwatu

Gili Islands by Lombok may still be a backpackers’ beach paradise destination but Bali still has a few gems of its own. Far from the madding crowd, there are picturesque beaches such as Uluwatu, Blue Point, Dreamland and Jalan Pantai beach, but Ubud really took our breath away. It’s been the most spiritual and exotic spot we have seen so far on our around the world trip.

Spectacular Ubud

In the late 15th century, following the collapse of Majapahit and the rise of Muslim principalities on the northern coast of Java, many Hindu nobilities, artisans and courtiers migrated to Bali. In the 1930’s a number of European artists such as Walter Spies and Rudolf Bonnet ‘found’ Bali. To say the least, art is the focus of Ubud with hundreds of galleries, art shops, craft stores and handmade fashions. The architecture is inspired by Indian and Javanese designs. Don’t be surprised to find local people labouring away on their paintings and wood carved sculptures, as art is the life and soul of this quaint town. Apart from art, the Balinese reserve a special place in their hearts for dance. We loved the Barong dance which was usually performed only during special rituals. Truly brilliant!

Barong Dancer in Ubud Bali

When you travel with kids, food becomes an intrinsic part of any holiday! Go ahead and try the Bebek Betutu or roast duck which is deliciously prepared with an assortment of spices. Natasza really liked their vegetarian fare as well.

The Majestic North

Our day trip to Kintamaji and Lake Batur was truly memorable. From here you can see the spectacular Mount Agung which stands over 3000 meters high. As you travel here, the temperature and the terrain changes and you can enjoy a view of the Batur Crater and beautiful rice field valleys. Keep a ‘bribe/gift’ ready for the local police as they like to make an extra buck. We would have really enjoyed the amazingly large Balinese temple on Pura Besakih if it wasn’t for the ‘tour guide wanna-bees’ making it really difficul to enjoy. When you travel, especially with children, opt for an organized tour to avoid the hustlers.

Largest Bali temple - Besakih Mother Temple

Fun and frolic when you travel with kids

Apart from the many nice beaches that offer hours of unadulterated fun in the relaxing warm waters, Niko also enjoyed running around in the Monkey Forest watching their antics and play. He also like the Barong dance and seemed completely engrossed watching the mystical characters perform.

Keep in mind…

  • Be careful on the roads, the drivers are quite aggressive and safety may not always be their first priority. Carry your international driver’s license at all times.
  • Check Agoda.com for last minute deals before you walk into any hotel so you can get good prices and bargains.
  • Arak – Bali moonshine coconut made from palm sap can be poisonous if received from questionable sources. I received a few offers from locals but was a bit freaked out by the warnings and parental guilt of being ‘irresponsible’:)
  • Many car rental companies will not have insurance so either pay a big premium to go with the brand names or drive extra carefully – Balinese marketing methods – while leaving an Avis office we were called by a guy hiding in the bushes, yes, the bushes…He was quite convincing and finally talked us into renting a car with him. Talk about competitive tactics
  • To us, Bali seems blessed with the best of art, culture, dance, scenic beauty and architecture and we walked away with an armload of happy memories from Ubud, a destination like no other!Do you have any questions or comments? Do you have any interesting Bali experiences to share with other parents? Please let us know in the comments section below.
    If you have similar or relevant around the world with children adventures, please share them in the comments section below. Thanks!

    Here are some of our photos from our Bali visit: