PROCRASTINATION // Melbourne, Australia

It actually feels like Winter is finally ending and Spring is just around the corner. The sun was out all weekend, so I found myself making any excuse I could to get outside instead of studying. My two assignments will just write themselves, right?

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESOn a whim Chris and I decided to spend Sunday afternoon exploring a part of the city we haven’t often been to – Docklands. Honestly, every time I have been around the area it is pretty underwhelming. Harbour Town shopping district is a ghost town, the Sunday market is lifeless, and when I went to the ice rink as a teenager I nearly broke my wrist. The place feels like it had great intentions behind it – it is modern, plenty of restaurants, right by the sea – yet something just went wrong along the way and it feels empty.

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This time, however, I actually appreciated it all a bit more. While it was still not exactly booming with the atmosphere and culture for which Melbourne is renowned, I found myself enjoying the beauty of the place.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESOur time in Docklands was still short lived, despite our new found appreciation for it. Our walk continued along the Capital City Trail to South Wharf and South Bank, in order to find a bit more atmosphere.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSouth Bank is always such a spectacle to walk along. There is street performers, open restaurants, tourists and locals a like bustling along the Yarra. We stopped off at a couple of bars along our way and relished the sunshine.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSpending the afternoon outside instead of studying led to the rest of the evening also being thrown to the wayside. Inevitably, we ended up at cheap Asian for dinner. The joys of student budgets!

Once again I have to admit my love for being a tourist in my own city. It never ceases to amaze me, and there is still so much more I have yet to see! Any recommendations are always welcomed!

– Reanna.

ANOTHER ADVENTURE ENDS // Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

And at last, the end of the journey! It seems I finally reached the end of all my photos from my Asian holiday (and don’t worry, this wasn’t even all of them!). I have enjoyed going back through my photos and reliving my recent escapades, however I must apologise for the lack of detailed and coherent wording in these posts. I have often thrown them together as a side of procrastination to university work. Perhaps I will make it a future goal to develop some better prose for my pictures! SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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After returning back from Batu Caves and having a break away from the heat, Chris and I walked into the city centre to visit one of KL’s main attractions – the Petronas Twin Towers. We had been tossing up whether or not to go up them – it was a bit on the expensive side – however Chris came across a nearby bar that sounded like it was worth a shot. It turned out to be an absolute winner, as you can see from the views in the above photos! Located in the Traders Hotel, Skybar was perfect for getting a fantastic view of the towers and the surrounding parks. Plus, you could sit and have a beer while admiring your view. The only downside was that the hotels pool was located in the middle of the bar, so it was quite stuffy inside!SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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Once the humidity of being around an indoor pool became too much, we wandered down through the park and checked out the base of the Petronas Towers, which was yet another massive shopping centre! There was certainly no shortage of them. Below is another of the more famous one, Pavilion. SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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We had dim sum for dinner, with Chris’ Hong Kong knowledge to guide us, before walking through one of the main street food districts. It was lively and loud, but we enjoyed taking it all in and grabbing some coconut ice cream to share. And yes, that is sweet corn on it! We weren’t too sure about it either.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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We had the whole of Sunday in KL, as our flight wasn’t until late at night. After packing up at our hostel we took to walking to some Chinese temples, before heading back to Chinatown to try out our bartering skills.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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My barterting skills proved dismal, but I did manage to score a watch for less than four dollars from a non-haggling shop. We found an indoor market, which was refreshing to walk around in away from the heat. Our explorations took us past one of those fish-eat-the-dead-skin-off-your-feet places, and seeing the cheap price we decided to try it out at a spur of the moment. It was so weird (and ticklish!) so Chris and I were a hilarious, laughing spectacle for the first five minutes. I, ah, guess our feet felt… rejuvinated? Violated? Naked?SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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Lunch was another Malaysian affair, and I grabbed a quick shoulder massage before we went to our next destination – the town museum. Actually, I don’t think it was much of a museum, but more of an informative quick show about the history of KL which featured a to-scale model of the city. It was interesting to see nonetheless!

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We weren’t sure what to do next, but upon walking past the town hall we discovered that a long running musical about the history of KL – ‘Mud’ – was starting in 5 minutes. We ran in, and found ourselves one of 8 people in the audience. I would like to hope it gets busier on the weekends! The show was interesting and entertaining, up until the demanded we all got up and stage to sing and dance with them at the end. Chris and I just about exploded from awkwardness, and made a quick exit as soon as the show finished. Perhaps if there had been more people there it wouldn’t have been so bad!SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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In the mood for some cheap shopping, we went back to the shopping centre near our hostel. Unfortunately we didn’t buy anything, but we did check out the theme park.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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Yep. A theme park in the shopping centre.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESDinner was local food (satay pictures above) back at the street food precinct, before we made the mission back out to the airport.

I am so grateful that I have been able to visit all these wonderful places in my travels. I think I can know testify that I have caught the ‘travel bug’. As lame as it sounds, it certainly it true! Even before I left Asia Chris and I were already trying to work out where we should travel next. I have certainly gained an appreciation for how wonderful our world and all the diverse cultures within it are.

– Reanna.

A CHANGE OF PACE // Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur became a destination on my travels because of it’s convenience as a stop over when flying back to Melbourne. Plus, it was where Chris had organised a stop over too – despite all our planning we only ended up having two days together overseas! We would have loved to have stayed longer but the Winter holidays from university were only quite short, so unfortunately we had to return back to reality at home.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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Chris arrived in KL the day before I did, plus he had visited the city seven years early on a secondary school trip. As a result, I was more than happy to follow his recommendations about what to do, considering how tired I was! I arrived early in the afternoon, so we still had a bit of time on my first day to walk around.

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Unknowingly we had organised our time in KL on the weekend marking the end of Ramadan! This meant there was a few less shops open on the street then normal, but for the most part it didn’t impact us.

Despite me having just spent nearly two weeks in China, one of our first destinations was Chinatown! However it was worth a visit, as it is quite well known for its bartering market.

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We had an early dinner before walking back to our hotel for one of the greatest nights sleep of my life.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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The next day we caught the train out to Batu Caves, an iconic destination for Hinduism. I absolutely loved the colour and architecture of the place, plus the mix of nature. Before hiking up to the caves we had to stop to refuel with some local sweets. The bright colours caught our eye!SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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The steps weren’t as strenuous as I thought, the hardest part was having to dodge around people who stopped to take photos (of which I was also a serious offender) and people coming the opposite direction.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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You can’t really tell, but the rockface in the above photo is actually covered in monkeys. Chris stood around laughing at me while I lost my mind over all of them. The monkeys, however, turned out to be quite the pest, coming right down to the tourists and snatching rubbish and water bottles.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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There were a number of temples within the caves themselves.

Oh look, and elusive photo of Chris and I together!

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Of course we had to try a fresh coconut. The first photo I took of Chris with the coconut featured him death glaring me, but I managed to catch him off guard the second time around.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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A second cave closer to the station was filled with statues and carvings of various Hindu stories. Unfortunately the lighting wasn’t very good so all my photos of it are awful!SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThere were plenty of restaurants nearby, so we indulged our food fantasies at a popular looking vegetarian place. It was full of locals, who skillfully managed to eat their meal – the same as ours – with their hands. Chris and I opted for forks in order to save our dignity!

Believe it or not these posts are finally coming to an end! Only one more day of KL and then I will finally be up to date with holiday photos. Just as well, as uni is getting back into full swing and this is proving to be a wonderful source of procrastination!

– Reanna.

PEARL OF THE ORIENT // Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR

 

Whilst I was traveling through China, Chris was in Hong Kong completing a university consulting subject. Despite this being the initial inspiration for my overseas trip, Chris and I never even got to see each other in Hong Kong! I think Chris was literally catching a plan out of the city as my tour group walked across the border. I suppose that is what you get when you book your trips at different times!SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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After catching a train from Yongding, we stayed in Shenzhen – a Chinese city on the border of Hong Kong – for the night. We really didn’t have any time there, and we were up bright and early the next day to walk over the border. It was quite intriguing to go through all the check point formalities one normally experiences at international airports when there were no planes involved! Once arriving at our hotel, we all spent 45 minutes enjoying the wonders of the internet (soooo many emails) before grabbing a quick lunch at a local cafe.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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Our first destination was Victoria Harbour. We were staying on the mainland side of the city.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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They have a small Avenue of Stars, kind of like the Hollywood Walk of Fame!SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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We caught the ferry across the harbour to Hong Kong Island. The weather kept changing between blue skies and ominous clouds, but overall we were pretty lucky! Chris said the pollution smog levels reached ‘severe’ warnings during his stay.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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Being an old British colony, there were double decker buses everywhere! We caught one up to Victoria peak, and I sat right up the front on the top level. The road up the mountain was small and windy, so needless to say it was mildly terrifying!

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The views from the top were absolutely spectacular! Hong Kong’s city scape was like nothing I have ever seen before. I could have spent hours admiring the skyline, and I loved the contrast between the built up city and the greenery of forest.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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At the top we said goodbye to our beloved tour guide, before taking the old venicular tram down the mountain side. Despite having no idea where we were going, we managed to navigate our way to one of the main shopping areas of Causeway Bay to check out the famous Hong Kong hustle and bustle.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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Our innocent attempts to catch the metro back under the bay were met with Hong Kong rush hour. We missed three trains before finally boarding, but there was a new train every minute! Efficiency to the extreme.

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The city looked amazing at night, thought the famous light show was pretty dismal. I had been dying to get dim sum for dinner, but the light show was at an inconvenient time, so our dinner plans unfortunately never came into fruition.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAfterwards, we had a quick meander through one of the famous (and touristy) street markets, before having one last drink together. I ended up heading home early due to an 8am flight the next day, but ended up getting about an hour of sleep anyway. Perhaps I should have stayed out!

I really wish the tour had given us more time in Hong Kong, but I suppose in part it was also my timing that resulted in me having one rushed day in this crazy city!

– Reanna.

THE GREAT WALL… OF TULOU // Yongding County, China

I swear I am getting closer to finishing all my holiday photos. However, I am still thoroughly enjoying the process of reliving all these memories, and it is not as if my life in Melbourne is overly exciting photographically at the moment.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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The remainder of my photos from Yongding County are from the rest of our full day in the area. After drinking a ridiculous amount of tea we continued our tour around the village, which was quite spectacular to see. It seems this place is in the process of establishing itself as a tourist hotspot – the information centre, for instance, was brand new but absolutely dead – so it could be interesting to see if it gets busier in the coming years.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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A number of our tour group are getting their photo taken with some domestic tourists in the above photo. A rather regular occurrence!SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

This is another view from inside our tulou, looking down from one of the upper floors over the inner courtyard.

The tulou below is the remnants of a great building that was bombed.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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Part of our tour group ventured over to another nearby village in the afternoon. We were told by our tour guide we could hire bikes and ride over here, but found out moments before leaving that there were no bikes to be had. Our hotel owner ended up driving us over – for a fee – before passing us along to his friend who took us to another grand tulou he owned, asking us to pay for entry. We kindly declined, but ended up paying him to go to a viewing platform, that we later decided was definitely a public area.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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Taking photos of the tulou, but not paying to go in #budgettravelsSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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The viewing platform gave us an amazing view of the valley, and what is coined the ‘Great Wall of Tulou’. You can see the distinct shapes of the buildings in the villages.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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Annnnnd then it rained. However, it was quite spectacular to watch the clouds and rain roll in from our vantage point. This is looking at the same view as my first photo of the valley about 15 minutes later.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThis is the tulou we stayed in. It was quite an amazing experience to be able to live in a historic building that is still a communal home to a family.

I actually believe these are the last of my photos of China! There is, however, still Hong Kong and Malaysia to go!

– Reanna.

SQUARE ROUNDHOUSES // Yongding County, China

 

 

After our one night stop over in Xiamen, it was back on the road into the countryside. Our destination was Yongding County, an area known for its traditional and historic roundhouses.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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Upon arrival, we had our bags taken ahead to the hotel and headed to the information centre, from which we were to walk the remaining kilometre to our accommodation. However, as luck would have it, the heavens opened up on us in a matter of minutes, covering the entire countryside in cloud cover. The rain quickly turned into a storm, which appeared to be directly on top of us. We were all standing at the entrance watching the rain when lightening hit the road directly in front of us (literally in the middle of the above photo), making the loudest thunder crack I had ever heard. Needless to say, we all jumped!SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Whilst killing time waiting for the rain to pass, we hung out in the convenience store and tried out what our tour guide informed us what rat meat. A local delicacy, we tentatively tried it out (it apparently goes well with beer). It was, uh, interesting.

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The rain finally subsided and we walked along the now thundering river to our accommodation. Along the way we passed a number of tulous, the local roundhouses. Turns out most of them aren’t even round! SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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After finding that our luggage had safely made it, we sat down for some local tea. Most restaurants and houses in the area had one of these elaborate tea set ups!SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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The above photo is the interior of our tulou. The building surrounds a courtyard, with the kitchen and restaurant at the bottom, and the rooms on the upper levels.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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The next day we were taken on a tour of the village. The first stop was to the above tulou, one of the largest and most famous. There is a smaller tulou on the inside, surrounding the interior courtyard.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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There were a number of shops inside, selling tourist knick knacks, local tea, and local tobacco.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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We visited a small, run down looking temple at the top of the village, before stopping off to try more local tea.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI would have loved to have taken some tea home, but there is no way I would have been able to get it through Australian customs!

– Reanna.

EVERYTHING DEEP FRIED ON A STICK // Xiamen, China

 

As convenient and fun as traveling with a tour group was, it did occasionally have a few down sides. One of those was a last minute change from a second sleeper train to a bullet train. Initially it sounded great – not having to endure another sleeper train – however in the end I would have preferred it to spending a whole day traveling between Wuyishan and Xiamen. SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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By the time we eventually arrived in the seaside city of Xiamen it was late afternoon, but we decided to head out an explore the main attraction of Gulangyu Island. We caught a ferry across the harbour, which provided some nice views of the town.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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The island itself was quite busy, being a tourist destination for domestic travelers. There are no cars on the island, making it quite peaceful to meander around the winding streets on foot. Tacky tourist knick knacks, fresh fruit and seafood were the main offerings.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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The island even sported a few beaches! They looked nice from the distance, but when we waded in the shallows I decided I would avoid swimming, due to the murky water and rubbish!SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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Our group split up, some deciding to try out the beach, while myself and three others wandered around the shopping area looking for food. It seemed that had every conceivable type of seafood battered, whacked on a stick, and deep fried! Mildy terrifying, but apparently incredibly popular!SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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We avoided deep fried seafood and stuck to noodles, rice and dumplings!SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Getting back to the hotel that night was an absolute disaster! Our attempts to wave down a taxi at the ferry terminal were futile – they either completely ignored us or told us no with no reason. Desperate, we walked into a little hostel and communicated with the lovely owners through a translator app. They were nice enough to organise a private taxi (kind of like Uber, I think) to take us back. An adventure for sure!

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We had until 11 the next day to explore, but I took it easy and did some clothes shopping (I desperately needed socks!), as well as walking around a nearby park. The humidity was awful though, and I ended up heading back to the hotel to change out of my sweat drenched clothes!

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESEven though Xiamen isn’t much of a tourist destination, I wish we had of had the day to explore the city instead of traveling. Apparently the university and botanical gardens are worth a look. And maybe I would have tried out some deep fried squid!

– Reanna.