Okay. After another few months of being totally rubbish at writing, I am back and here to stay!
(I say that every time, so let’s just see how we go… I really do love it here though, I swear!)
The reason for my sudden return?
Well, I thought it very important that I come back and shout to the world that I finally did it!
A couple of months ago, on the fifth anniversary of my last international departure (when I was lucky enough to travel to Italy with my high school Italian class), I finally booked my flights for my first ever solo international adventure! SOLO! In February – that’s next month! – me, myself, and I will be heading to ASIA for the trip of a lifetime. I will be setting off to explore Japan, Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia. Over the moon is an understatement!
Originally I had planned to go to Europe for my first solo trip but when I came across the Asian Adventure Contiki tour I immediately fell in love. The idea of the cultural experience, the amazing Asian foods, the more affordable budget, and the much shorter plane trip had me singing Hallelujahs all the way to Flight Centre.
The Contiki actually only includes the three countries within South East Asia, but just before I booked I came across return flights to Osaka, Japan for only $250! I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see Japan so I tacked it on to either end of the trip.
I will fly into Osaka, where I’ll stay for two days, before heading to Thailand to start the Contiki tour. The Contiki will move through Thailand to Laos and then Cambodia, and once the tour finishes in Cambodia, I will fly back to Osaka for a ten hour stopover before flying home. Here’s to a year of amazing travel, starting with my very own Asian Adventure!
I didn’t end up having a very good sleep last night. I heard someone outside shooing something (or someone) away from their car and after that I was paranoid someone was breaking into my car, or I don’t know… under my bed! So I didn’t sleep well at all. I left the motel just after 10am and started driving to Mackay. I noticed signs for the Capricorn Caves, and I’d read amazing things about them on Trip Advisor, so I decided last minute to stop in and check it out.
I got there 20 minutes before their next guided tour and it was only $30 for an hour so I decided to go for it. I am SO glad that I did. That tour took over the Big Banana as my favourite thing I’ve done so far on this trip! The caves were stunning and the tour guide was so informative and fun. Their main attraction is their Cathedral Cave which has been decked out as a church with a choir stand and candles and a stage. They hold weddings in it, and it is seriously on my list now! (As a possible wedding destination for the future.) I fell in love with it. The tour guide said that there are also underground operas held in the Cathedral Cave, thanks to the near perfect acoustics. The man who assessed the acoustics in the Sydney Opera House also assessed the cave and he said that the Opera House is one side of perfect and the Cathedral Cave is the other – so right in between would be perfect acoustics. How amazing is that!?
After leaving the caves I drove to Sarina, 30 minutes away from my motel in Mackay. I hadn’t eaten so I couldn’t wait any longer! I got myself a Subway and then finished the drive to my motel. This place looks and feels like a 5 star resort! I am so glad I decided to book a motel here instead of sleep on my cousin’s couch – even though I was super grateful for the offer I thought it’d be better for me to have a proper sleep.
After I checked in my cousin Felicity met me with her three oldest kids to have dinner in the motel’s fancy restaurant. It was so nice to catch up with her and get to see her kids after such a long time! I hadn’t even met either of the girls so that was really nice.
I woke up today to the realisation that I was definitely the only person in my unit last night. I could’ve done whatever I wanted, but instead I stayed in my room (mainly because the tele had shocking signal and I couldn’t watch the Origin – Go Queensland! – and also because there was nowhere to plug in my laptop which I needed to do to make last night’s post!). I checked out at about 9:30am and Jessie and I headed straight for our first stop, Bundaberg.
I had no real plans for today so I looked up things to do in Bundy. There were raving reviews about the Bundaberg Rum Distillery but the tour included two beverages at the bar as well as taste testing all the way through the tour… Thanks to being on my P Plates this didn’t sound like much fun considering I wouldn’t have been able to have any of the alcohol, so I decided to save the tour until I can enjoy the full experience.
I stopped for lunch in Bundaberg, just at a Coffee Club. They’ve redone their menu since the last time I went to one so it was nice to try something totally different. I was only there for an hour while I sat and enjoyed lunch, and then I was ready to face my biggest chunk of driving – 3 hours and 25 minutes to Rockhampton.
The drive went very quickly. It was painless and I arrived at my motel before I knew it. The longest drive of my trip is now over, and it was truly a piece of cake. My motel is nice – I have a park right out the front of my door so I can see Jessie through my window. Again I have two beds, but this time I have a table and a little sitting area as well. I really like this place.
I am about to go pamper myself and have a nice, long, luxurious shower followed by a refreshing sleep.
I decided last night that today, instead of going to the typical Sunshine Coast, I would instead go to the Irwin’s famous Australia Zoo! I bought my ticket on Groupon, which saved me a bit of money, and I was in the car and on the road by 8am to make sure I got to the zoo right as it opened at 9am.
I quickly sussed out the show times and studied the map and started my walk through the different zones. I’m really fascinated by crocodiles so they were first on my mind. After having a look through the alligators and freshwater crocs, I moved on to the bigger and angrier salties at the back of the Crocoseum. Steve designed the Crocoseum so that each croc has it’s own individual territory but they are linked by gates and channels to the main arena, so they all get a chance to perform. He also designed it with crystal clear water so that the public are able to see how a croc behaves under water – something we aren’t often able to understand thanks to the typically murky waters. It’s very clever and it’s almost unbelievable that the design of the Crocoseum works.
I got up close and personal with a few animals, including a cuddle from a koala and a camel ride! (I did not, however, smile at a crocodile. That apparently takes years of training and complete mastery.)
There were some really beautiful sights, and it was such a stunning day!
After the Zoo it was time to drive to my hostel in Hervey Bay. I briefly stopped in Gympie for a snack, but I was only there for 30 minutes. I did a lot of night driving tonight which has confirmed with me that I don’t want to do anymore night driving! Very tiring. Although seeing this sunset was pretty amazing…
I arrived at my hostel just after 7pm and found my way into my room. It’s a big unit with three bedrooms, a living area, a bathroom and a kitchen. I’m not sure if anyone else is staying here tonight, but I’ll probably be going to bed soon anyway.
In regards to State of Origin game 2: Go QLD!
I had a bit of a sleep in this morning but once I woke up I was ready to get out of the house. No one was home – or if they were home they were asleep – so I got dressed and decided to head out on the hunt for an adventure.
I didn’t get far before deciding that I wanted to use today to see Finding Dory at the cinema. I drove over to the Chermside Westfield and looked around the stores before my movie session at 11:15. I bought myself some new Lorna Jane and a new pair of shoes – not too much shopping, but fairly expensive items so probably good that I stopped when I did, haha!
The movie was gorgeous. I really, really enjoyed it. (I definitely cried. Just a bit.) Once it was finished I drove myself back home to start reading my new book before having a shower, eating some dinner, relaxing with my Aunty watching Staying Alive (good ol’ John Travolta in his heyday!) and House Rules, and going to bed.
My final day in Brisbane was very slow paced and refreshing – exactly what I had wanted.
Back on the road tomorrow!