Taking A Trip Down Under? Here’s Everything You Should Do In Perth

Australia, Oceania

It’s time for a trip down under. That’s right; we’re heading for Australia. Specifically, I’m going to tell you about everything you don’t want to miss when visiting Perth. One of Australia’s finest cities. Though, as you’re about to find out it’s what lies beyond the city limits that’s truly worth discovering. Join me then as I uncover some of the best things to see and do around Perth. If you take this trip, the adventurers and romantics won’t be disappointed; that’s for sure.

Kings Park And Botanic Gardens

You’ll have to search for a cheap car rental when you visit Perth because you are going to be doing quite a lot of traveling. There are a few things to do in the city of Perth. But, as already mentioned, the true cities lie in the wilderness. Okay, not so much the wilderness as a short car ride outside the center. There you’ll find Kings Park. It’s a gorgeous, picture perfect paradise that stretches for miles and is visited by well over six million people every year. There’s a lot to explore in this 400-acre wonderland. Make sure that you do stop by at least once as the sun begins to set. If you do this, you’ll get an enchanting view of Perth lit up at night. As well as that, don’t forget to journey along the elevated walkway through the trees. Below you’ll be able to see the entire park stretched out before you.

Perth Beaches

There are quite a few beaches that you’ll want to explore that I’d be hard-pressed to name just one that I recommend. Instead, I suggest you take a trip to as many as possible. Walk along the sandy shores or head for a swim in the shallow waves. Some beaches in Perth also offer surfing lessons. That’s something you might want to look into because the Aussies sure know how to ride the waves. In the evening, you can settle down on the green not too far from the shore for a great BBQ. Or, drive down to the pier for a meal at one of Perth’s finest restaurants.

Hire A Boat

If you’re a nature lover, you might want to see the sea life surrounding Perth up close and personal. Well, you can. You just need to hire a boat, and you can do that down at the city bay. You’ll be able to take out one of the smaller boats by yourself or with your family. Then you can jet across the ocean waves looking for the perfect area to drop anchor. Dive into the sea just off the coast and you might just spot a few sea creatures.

Rottnest Island

Lastly, you can finish your trip by taking a ferry over to Rottnest Island. There, you’ll have the chance to snorkel and scuba dive in crystal clear waters. It’s best to wait for the optimum weather conditions before you travel to this perfect paradise. Particularly, if you are planning on exploring the world below.

“For more exciting activities and stay options in Perth, check out these 15 Popular Waterfront Hotels in Perth compiled by HotelsCombined.”

I hope you have found this a great incentive to take a trip to Perth this year.

Have Your Dream Guam Vacation with Cebu Pacific

Guam, Oceania

Imagine a holiday with pristine white beaches, turquoise waters and tax-free shopping. Now that Cebu Pacific, the leading airline in the Philippines, has begun offering low-fare flights between Manila and Guam, it might be high time to put this US territory on the bucket list.

The largest and southernmost of the Mariana Island Arc, the island of Guam is located east of the Philippines. This exotic and stunning destination is rich in natural resources, and boasts of diverse colonial history and local culture, which probably account for its one million visitors a year. 

Off-the-beaten-path paradise

Guam is lush and tropical, with breathtaking ocean views, making it seem like an untouched paradise despite its popularity among tourists. Impressively, the island manages to protect its resources well. Its beaches for one, like Tumon and Tanguisson, boast of an abundant marine life.

Pleasure Island, Tumon

Guam is also surrounded by a thriving coral reef that makes it a year-round snorkeling and diving destination. Diving can also be a lesson in history, as among the most popular destinations in Guam are the SMS Cormoran and the Tokai Maru, shipwrecks from the two world wars.

The island is also blessed with a slew of natural wonders such as towering cliffs, beautiful limestone forest terrains, and other wonders such as the Pagat Caves, Sigua Falls, Ague Cove, and Marbo Cave. One must-see wonder though is Talofofo Falls, a scenic 30-foot waterfall in the Ugum River that can be accessed by a cable car.

All in all, the whole of the island is a sight to behold.

Shopping and dining haven

Guam may be a remote island but it certainly doesn’t lag when it comes to shopping and high-end retail options. And to top it all off, shopping in Guam is duty-free.

Blue Hole 2

Shopaholics will find a haven in Tumon, dubbed as Guam’s center of shopping and fashion. Check out the DFS Guam Galleria and Tumon Sands Plaza, where all the popular designer brands are. All-time favorite American brands are also available at marked down prices.

While the shopping industry of Guam boasts of carrying international brands, it’s their local cuisine that takes the spotlight when it comes to dining. Similar to most Asian countries, rice is a fixture in Guam; red rice, to be precise.  Called hineksa’ aga’ga in Chamorro language, red rice is prepared by cooking short-grain rice with achote (annatto) water.

Another must-try signature local dish is kelaguen, which is similar to ceviche and enjoyed with flour or corn tortillas. This dish is prepared with chicken, octopus, or squid, in a pickling marinade of lemon juice, fresh coconut, green onions and hot red chilies.

Ceb Pac Take-off

Chamorros, as the locals are called, are fond of making dishes that are closely similar to Filipino dishes, such as meat stews, coconut-infused dishes, and candied fruits, which should be easy for Filipino tourists to enjoy once there. It could be attributed to the fact that Filipinos comprise approximately 25% of Guam’s population.

Grab the chance to warmly greet Guam “hafa adai” by booking a flight now! Cebu Pacific’s lowest year-round fares start from P7,197 all-in, but seat sales go as low as P2,500. Visit ww.cebupacificair.com now!

Discover Coogee Beach in Eastern Sydney, New South Wales

Australia, Oceania

Sydney locals are among the luckiest folks on the planet.

The city is one of the busiest economic centers in the world the quality of life here is something that others cities could only hope to imitate and achieve.

On top of that, Sydney is blessed with gorgeous beaches that makes balancing work and chill time so easy, breezy.

Take for example, the case of Coogee beach, located in the eastern suburbs of Sydney.

coogee3

It only takes a 20-minute bus ride from Sydney Central to enjoy the beach life and party atmosphere Coogee has to offer.

A year-round destination for locals and visitors alike, Coogee gives everyone that inimitable beach side lifestyle that makes Sydney quite popular.

Coogee is a public beach and you can swim, paddle, snorkel to your heart’s content. The waves here are mild as compared tot he rough waters of Bondi so it is not surprisingly that this beach is preferred by families and casual, average swimmers.

coogee1

Like other main beaches in Sydney, there are lifeguards patroling the main beach so you can have some sort of peace of mind.

For food lovers, the streets around the Coogee and Randwick (the suburb) are teeming with bars, restaurants, souvenir shops so there will be no shortage of areas to dine and drink.

Just a note though. Sydney is generally a pricey city so everything seems expensive. The bars and restaurants near the beach are understandably expensive. Don’t fret though since there are lots of convenience stores where you can get your beer cheap.

coogee5

No matter if it’s a weekday or weekend, Coogee is full of life and visitors.

One of the reasons for this is the fact that Coogee is the starting and/or endpoint of the famous 6-kilometer Coogee to Bondi Coastal Walk, one of the must-do activities whenever you visit Sydney.

This walk traverses the eastern shore of the city from Bondi to Coogee while passing the Bronte and Clovelly beaches and Gordon’s Bay.

coogee7

Coogee beach is indeed of the treasures of Sydney. And if you ever have the chance to come visit the city, don’t miss the chance to take a splash in this gorgeous and picturesque beach.

coogee4

. A year round favourite with beach-going Sydneysiders and visitors alike, you can walk, surf, swim, snorkel, laze on the sand, shop, eat and drink here to your heart’s content.

Hostel Review: 790 On George in Central Sydney, Australia

Australia, Hostels, Oceania

Sydney, Australia is one of biggest megacities in the world and its landmarks such as the Opera House, Harbour Bridge, Bondi and Coogee beaches, and the Botanical Gardens attract millions of visitors annually. 


Indeed, there is literally an endless list of things to see and things to do in Sydney, and the only problem left for any would-be visitor is budget because God knows, this is a pricey city, and the location of his/her accommodation.


If you will be booking any hostel or hotel in the city, you must make sure that is is in the center of the city because the prices of buses, trains, and ferries are really high and can take away a big bulk of your travel budget. 
I booked my hostels in Sydney a little bit later due to last minute notices from several couchsurfing hosts. 
I stumbled upon 790 on George, and I booked it because of its central location. It is located along George St. (the main avenue in Sydney) and Rawson St. It is also three minutes away from the Sydney Central station via Eddy Avenue exit. It is also located just beside the Sydney Central YHA meaning you can have access to a lot of information should you need them. 

Lobby

Since it was a last minute booking, I was pretty realistic and I didn’t have any background or expectation of the hostel but I knew that it was centrally located and that from the hostel, I can easily go to the city’s various districts such as Surry Hills, Darlinghurst, Wooloomooloo and of course the central business district. 


When I finally checked in, I was surprised that it was indeed a no-frills, good service hostel located at the heart of Sydney.

  
Near the place, there are a lot of restaurants ranging from cheap to a bit pricey, and several travel services, perfect for any backpacker. Travel Bugs located right beside it was totally awesome and helped me a lot for my tour needs. 
It was very reasonably priced at 26 to 31 AUD a night for a 4-bed male dorm. 


Each room has electrical sockets, clean sheets and linens, and lockers. The rooms have a very good AC system.
The building has a fully functioning elevator too.


The hostel has laundry (a bit pricey at 4AUD and dryer services at 4AUD, a kitchen and a common room at the second and 7th floor. It has cool activities for guests, mostly at nearby Scubar and Side Bar.


The staff was very accommodating too.The only thing I don’t like is that they charge for wi-fi at 1 AUD for 1 hour.
Otherwise, it was a perfect jump off point for your adventures in Sydney. Highly recommended!!!!
 

dining room

kitchen
dining room
hallway to kitchen
common room
common room
Bulletin Board
Hallway





What To See At the Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne, Australia

Australia, Oceania

Since I was a child, I have always wanted to travel to Australia, one of the largest countries in the southern hemisphere. In fact, it is a continent on its own right.

After years of dreaming and hoping, that dream finally became a reality when I embarked on a nearly three-week adventure in the land down under. I spent most of my time in the mega-city of Sydney.

But  I also made sure that I would visit Melbourne, the most populous city in the state of Victoria.

Melbourne, according to locals is one of the most relaxed and beautiful cities in the country.

Anything that you will ever need is in this city, and the hustle and bustle of city life are less apparent or pronounced here since the city center is much smaller compared to Sydney.

For four days, I walked around the city and visited many of the city’s famous landmarks.

The landmark most recommended by locals is the Queen Victoria Market, one of the oldest public markets in the world, operating since the 19th century. The market was named after Queen Victoria who ruled the British Empire from 1837 to 1901. The market itself traces its origins to 1878.

At seven hectares (17 acres), it is also the biggest open air market in the southern hemisphere.

Someone told me that the character of the city’s people is most visible in its city markets, and I wanted to see Melbourne locals where they are most relaxed.

When I heard that it is one of the oldest public markets in the world, I was expecting a dilapilated building, littered with insects and pests.

What welcomed me is two blocks of organized wet and dry market, so clean, I can’t help but feel impressed.

There are two main entrances to the market. The entrance located along La. Trobe St, is the dry section of the market where you can purchase Australian souvenirs, Ugg boots, shirts, belts, bags and other novelty items.

You can also find a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, straight from the many local farms, in this dry section of “Queen Vic” as locals charmingly call it. The fruits look so luscious that I couldn’t help but purchase a kilo of grapes, and blackberries.

The Elizabeth St. entrance gives you access to the wet section of the market. Admittedly, I was expecting this part to be a bit messy but again, I was proven wrong. It is one of the cleanest and most organized wet markets I’ve been to.

You can buy fish, shells, pork, beef, kangaroo and emuu meat here. (Note: beef prices are lower because of its abundance in the country).

This side of Queen Vic also boasts of the cafes and restaurants where the locals hang out.

Without any exaggeration, Queen Victoria Market plays a very important role in the lives of both locals and tourists.

Australia is one of the most expensive countries in the world. A full meal averages 15 to 30 Australian dollars, which is a lot by any standards.

Locals rely on the produce sold in this market for affordable raw materials and ingredients. At the same time, backpackers also frequent this market in search for the cheapest available meal.

Queen Victoria Market is open five days a week and they have a special Wednesday night market.

Considered a valuable Melbourne landmark, Queen Victoria Market is indeed a must-see destination for anyone visiting Melbourne.

Celebrating Christmas In Sydney, Australia With A Hundred New Friends

Australia, Oceania

Traveling around the world on your own, is a very rewarding and eye opening adventure which can help shape the person you are or the person you want to be.

For the past 10 years, I have traveled to about 20 countries and territories, most of them on my lonesome, and it was definitely the best times of my life. I had no regrets.

However, there comes a time during your travels when the feeling of utter solitude hits you like a brick wall. It’s that nagging feeling in your gut when all of a sudden, you miss everyone: your family, your friends, your office buddies.

You just happen to miss everything that’s familiar in your life and there is a feeling that makes you want to suddenly pack your things, take the next flight out and come back to your own familiar cocoon.

I was roaming the streets of Sydney, Australia last Christmas eve and this utter feeling of solitude hit me out of nowhere.

Queen Victoria Building and monument

I was roaming around Market St, the central business district of Sydney, and I was smack in the midldle of Australians’ frantic last minute shopping for presents and Christmas banquets.

Everywhere you turn, shops were full of customers out to purchase the best presents for their loved ones for the holidays. There were couples strolling around Pitt St. and Sydney Arcade seeming to enjoy the milder Australian summer.

Families were gathered around the giant Lego christmas tree built in the middle of the shopping complex. Near Martin’s Place,  there was another giant interactive Christmas tree which caught the fancies of both locals and tourists alike.

If you dared visit, Queen Victoria Building, a major shopping complex in the city, you’d be surprised at the throngs of people coming in and out of the ancient building, shopping for treats.

Seeking refuge from the multitudes of shoppers and tourists, I also tried roaming around Castlereagh Street which houses the most expensive brands, thinking that people would be averse to spending all of their hard-earned dough for expensive belts, bags, and coats. Again, I was proven wrong. The area was a total chaos with shoppers.

Display at the World Square in Goulbourne

I finally ended at the quiet lawns of Hyde Park, where I literally hid from the throngs of people.

It was Christmas eve, and I was alone in an unfamiliar city.

I had no one to talk to and no one to eat “Noche Buena” with (it’s a Christmas banquet usually served during Christmas eve in the Philippines).

I lay on the grass and stared at the blue Australian sky, and without warning, tears fell from my eyes.

I tried to perk up by going to my happy place, but with Christmas all around me, I failed miserably.

I must have cried for an hour or so until I feel asleep, waking to a starry night.

THE PARTY!!!!!

It was hours before Christmas and I had nowhere to go, and I was resigned to spending one of my loneliest Christmases, when a tall, lanky guy in a Santa hat, approached me near Goulbourne St. and handed me a flier to Sydney’s Red and White party.

With New Friends

Suddenly, my spirits were lifted and there was suddenly the prospect of making this day positive. After all, Australians are known to throw wicked parties.

It was 9pm when I entered Sidebar, one of the coolest backpacker haunts in the city. The place was half-full but it was already buzzing with activity.

I met several people from around the world and there was the usual hellos and how do you do’s.

Names were exchanged and the stories of our travels and conquests flowed freely as beer, pizza, wedges etc, were finished in a matter of minutes (we were hungry backpackers after all !!!).

I met Bernd and Tobias from Germany, Lucia from Uruguay, Thiyen from Vietnam, Johanne and Marcel from France, James from the UK and all night, we talked our adventures in Australia and around the world.

When it came to hit the dancefloor, we lost our inhibitions and joined the hundreds of locals and travelers sway to the current club/house music.

By 11pm, Sidebar was already bursting with people and by then, a lot of people were a bit buzzed, as evidenced by the blank faces, and the reddish cheeks. I can honestly tell you that Australians really know how to party!!!! And by extension, visitors to the country, adapt quickly when it comes to the art of partying.

The music got only louder and the dancing more spirited as we feel the clock ticking.

I was looking around the sea of faces and the writhing bodies and a sudden warmth filled me.

There I was, more than 6,000 kilometers away from home, but I was no longer alone.

All around me were new friends whom I really like to enjoy. Every minute, I was meeting a new face and learning a new face.

Granted, after that night, I would keep in touch with only a handful of them, but I was overcome by the realization that on that night,

I was celebrating with a thousand souls, and that no matter what happens after this, no matter where we go, there was a time in our lives, when we were all together.

It was a time that we will never forget.

I could feel a thousand different emotions welling inside me when out of nowhere, the DJ started the countdown. It was 30 seconds to Christmas.

In unison, we counted down the seconds to Christmas and everyone including the serving staff joined in with a childish anticipation.

When it came, Christmas Day was welcomed with the loudest cheer I have ever heard.

Then, if it was possible, dark club went darker still, and there was a quick pause.

As if on cue, everyone, at least Aussies and British and Europeans, who are quite familiar with the song, sang “Fairy Tale of New York”, at the top of their voices.

I learned later on that the song was in fact the most played Christma song in the UK in the 21st century.

Those who were not familiar with it, just settled on watching the grinning faces of the singers and joined in the swaying of the bodies.

When it was over, the entire place burst with hugs and kisses, and sincere well wishes to friends. To everyone really, because in that moment, we were all friends.

The partying went on until the wee hours of the morning. I partied so hard, my feet were aching the next day. But again, I had no regrets, because it was one of the happies days of my life.

A Visit To St. Paul’s Cathedral in Melbourne, Australia

Australia, Oceania

Whenever I travel, one of the first places I visit are the local churches.

I am not very religious but I have always admired the varying architectural designs of the world’s many churches. Also, churches reflect the mood and the style of the people who worship in them.

During my recent visit to Melbourne, I happily stumbled upon the massive St. Paul’s Cathedral located along the intersection of Swanston and Flinders Streets. You can say that these two are the most busiest thoroughfares in Melbourne and is considered as the central business district of the city.

This neo-Gothic style church was constructed in 1885 upon the location of what was previously a very small church. It mas made bigger and grander to accommodate the growing Anglican faith of the people of Melbourne.

It was designed by famous British English architect William Butterfield. The church is considered as his very last materpiece. It followed the neo-Gothic style of architecture which was prevalent during the late 18th to 19th century.

Inside, St. Paul’s Cathedral is a magnificent work of art with gorgeous pillars, domes and windows. The place becomes even more mysterious and captivating with rays of lights passing through the stained glass windows.

On that hot summer day, I went inside the church and prayed for protection and good health for my loved ones. I also prayed for the resolution of the many wars in the world. I also prayed for the strength to lead a righteous life.

After my prayers, I still couldn’t help but linger inside the church as I marvel as its beauty.

Below are some pictures of the cathedral:

How I Got My Australian Tourist Visa in 2 Weeks

Australia, Oceania, Visa and Immigration

DISCLAIMER: Before I begin, I just wanna remind everyone that this is based on my own experience in securing my Australian Tourist Visa. Also, I also want to point out that I am not in any way connected to the Australian Embassy and its partners.

Any Filipino who wish to satisfy his wanderlust, has to face three grim realities of global travel early on: high cost of plane tickets, expensive hotels, and hard-to-secure visas.

The first obstacle is becoming easier and easier to overcome what with the proliferation of budget airlines and online sites providing cheaper plane tickets. Expensive hotels, meanwhile can easily be avoided thanks to hostels, airbnb, couchsurfing and other forms of homestays. But the problem on visas is a roadblock that one has to face like a soldier. You must be brave and you must be ready.

Most ASEAN countries have already waived their visa requirement but major destinations such as the US, Canada, Europe, Japan, and Australia continue to require visas for all travel purposes.

For the longest time, I have always wanted to visit Australia and discover the adventures that await me there. But to be honest, I have always been discouraged by the complex process of applying for a visa.

Thank God I finally had the courage to try and after going through a lot of difficulties, I was finally able to secure a 3-month tourist visa to Australia and I will be flying to the land down under in December.

I got my visa in as fast as two weeks after the embassy received my documents.

So how did I do it? Here’s a step-by-step procedure on how to apply for a visa.

First and foremost, you must know that you can’t lodge your application directly to the Australian Embassy. The embassy has tapped a commercial company VFS Global to accept all visa application for the Commonwealth. Got it, you may read on.

PREPARING YOUR APPLICATION

1. The very first step is quite simple and obvious. Know the visa type you need to apply for. You can check it out by clicking this site of the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP). Find a Visa. At the left side of that page, there is a pricing estimator which will guide you on the cost of visa application fee you will need to pay. Or you can just simply click Pricing Estimator

For the purposes of this blog, I will disclose that I applied for a multiple entry tourist visa for holiday which falls under Visitor Visa Subclass 600. And the visa application cost was AUD130 or about P5,700 (this is the most updated rate)

2. To apply for this visa, you must first gather all the required documents. According to the Australian Embassy, here are the Required Documents.

Basically that list includes the ff:

  • Information on Visitors Visa—http://www.immi.gov.au/visas/visitor/600/applicants.htm 
  • Visa Application Form—http://www.immi.gov.au/allforms/pdf/1419.pdf 
  • Visa Application Fee (for tourist visa is P5,700) payable to Australian Embassy
  • Addl Service Fee for VFS Global (P1,330 payable to VFS Services Philippines Private Inc.
  • Personal documents (copy of passport, stamps, visa, entry and exit stamps) and 1 passport size photo attached to the application form
  • Financial documents (copies of bank deposits with history, bank statement or payslips over a period of time, credit card statements and limits, letter of support from Australian contact with the above evidence of financial capability
  • Evidence of intended purpose of travel (plane booking, hotel booking, detailed itinerary

My passport was really thick and it has a lots of stamps on it due to my travels over the past years and I was undecided which stamps to include so I decided to include my entire passport (not adviseable though).

The Visa fee and the service fee for VFS should be paid via Manager’s Check. Go to your bank and ask them to issue them for you. Normally, banks charge P100 for each check.

For financial documents, I included ITR, certificate of employment with compensation. I have very little money in the bank since I traveled to three countries earlier this year, so I included pay slips and bank statements for 3 months.

For evidence of travel, I sought the assistance of leading travel agency Avenix Travel (www.facebook.com/AvenixTravel) to issue a dummy plane booking. Avenix booked me a tentative booking at one of the leading airlines in Asia and sent me a copy via email.

Separately, I made tentative hostel booking at hostelworld and attached the reservation form. I also included an approved leave of absence form.

Understand this: Australia is a first world country and the cost of living is high. Since I have very little money in the bank, I explained well in the application form how I intend to survive with the amount of money in my bank for the duration of my stay.

I explained that I will be staying at a hostel (identified) and that I will be visiting tourist areas, places of interest that do not necessarily require expensive fees and transport. e.g. (Coogee to Bondi walk, Manly beach.

I do not know whether that will work for everyone, but I guess, the embassy considered my travel history (as seen on my stamps) that I travel a lot and I always go back.

SUBMITTING YOUR APPLICATION

Once you have filled up all the forms including the 14-page application form, you may now call up VFS Global and arrange for pick-up appointment at your preferred date and place. You can schedule by clicking this link http://www.vfsglobal.com/australia/philippines/Schedule_an_appointment.html

Or by emailing info.auph@vfshelpline.com or by making a personal appearance at their office located at VFS Global Services Philippines Private Inc., Mezzanine floor Unit M01, Ecoplaza Building, 2305 Pasong Tamo Extension Makati City.

Once the courier picks-up your documents, the waiting game begins.

As a matter of policy, it takes the Australian Embassy one month to give a reply to your application form.

Note however that the time it takes VFS to collect all your documents and sort it is not included in the 1 month rule. It is really adviseable to apply for your visa two months before your intended travel.

In my case, it took only 2 weeks. I think its because of my travel history and the completeness of my documents. But again, this does not happen often so apply early.

TRACKING YOUR APPLICATION: 

You can track the status of your application by clicking this link. http://www.vfsglobal.com/australia/philippines/track_application.html

Be advised however that you will have to have a VLN number before you can use this portal. It takes a week before after application before you get a VLN and you can get it by calling the VFS hotline.

HOW TO FOLLOW UP WHEN YOU GET NO RESPONSE  

Two weeks after, the embassy returned my passport. It’s an original document so they had to return it. Unfortunately, it had no response included in the pouch. No Visa Grant and No Visa Rejection as well.

I was beginning to panic. I didnt want all my hardwork to go to waste so I contacted VFS Global to report the situation. After a few calls, they gave me the direct landline of the Australian Embassy which I immediately called. the phone was answered by a computer prompt which advised me to email the embassy regarding the status of my visa application form.

The email was ‘immigration.manila@dfat.gov.au’

I advise everyone to exercise caution. Please email only if the visa application is already past one month. I only emailed them since they already completed processing my visa as checked on the VFS Global portal and they already returned my documents without a decision.

After a day, they emailed me back and it was A Notice of Visa Grant.

I really cried because of too much joy. All the difficulties I went through paid off and I couldn’t be happier now that I will soon be able to see Australia, one of the most gorgeous countries in my bucket list.

A Visit To Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia

Australia, Oceania

It was a hot Saturday summer morning in Australia.

And just like any given morning during the summer months, thousands of people, locals and visitors alike, leave the comfort of their airconditioned homes in the suburbs and in downtown Sydney central to take an hour’s pilgrimage to Bondi, the undisputed mecca for beach lovers in the southern hemisphere.

 

There is a lot of discussion on the meaning of Bondi but the most accepted one is that Bondi is an Aboriginal word meaning “where the water breaks over the rocks”.

Barely a kilometer long, Bondi beach is definitely one of the most visited tourist spots in Sydney. It is located in the Eastern Suburbs, particularly in Waverly Council. It attracts millions of foreign and domestic travelers yearly.

I became one of those millions of travelers when I decided to take the city bus to take a 7-kilometer (4 mile) journey from Sydney central to Bondi beach.

You see, seeing it and swimming against its mighty tides have been a lifelong dream.

Ever since I saw pictures of Sydney in a travel show many moons ago, I have decided that I will one day visit Australia and visit Bondi.

It took me years, but that dream came true.

The Bondi Complex

Bondi beach is a gorgeous sight and I can’t help but catch my breath with my very first glimpse of its sparkly azure waters.

The mural inside Bondi Pavilion
 I was standing at the top of the hill, at the foot of Bondi Road and I had a full panorama of the beach.

At the eastern portion of the beach, you can get a glimpse of the Olympic-sized pool of the Bondi Icebergs swimming club, where the more affluent and senior tourists hang out.

Professional surfers then occupy the eastern stretch of the beach, since this part of Bondi is made up of mighty waters that only the more experienced and accomplished swimmers and surfers can take.

True story: I tried to swim in this part of the beach, but was quickly pushed back by the strong currents. I was about to commit unintentional suicide but the lifeguards on duty had pity on me and cautioned me against going into the water again.

The wall of Surfih restaurant

Past the professional section of the beach is the red and yellow flagged area, where beginners can safely swim. It was here that I decided to stay for the length of my stay in Bondi, following my harrowing experience at the pro side.

In front of this section of the beach stands Bondi Pavilion, which houses the small museum, along with several retail shops and restaurants such as Surfish, The Bucket List and Nick’s.

At night, this area of the beach becomes a giant party area under the moon.

This section is also where you can mind the Bondi Skate Park, and Parking Murals which depict and give tribute to the victims of the Bali bombing in 2001.

The Beach 

There is indeed a lot of things to do in Bondi Complex. Make no mistake however. The main spot remains the beach and its surf.

A local gave me a sage advice. He said that to best understand a Sydney local, you have to see him in Bondi.

True enough: the people of Sydney seem to be at their best element when they are in Bondi. They strip off their clothes without any inhibitions. They play a wide array of sports under the direct heat of the sun.

Icebergs private pool
 Everywhere you look, families, couples and lone wolves lie down on the beach in varying states of nakedness, trying to get that perfect tan.

In the grassy portion of the hill, people are reading books or taking a nap under the shade of the trees.

Bondi is a very important part of Sydney life that locals have incorporated the beach into their everyday schedule.

In the morning, you see several people take their morning jogs along the beach. Before sunset, you see people still wearing their office outfits, take leisurely walks along the beach while trying to unwind.

During my 16 days in Australia, I went to Bondi about three times and each visit was more memorable than the last. And like the locals, it has been a major part of my trip.

Bondi is really a magical place and my awesome experience made that trip all the more unforgettable.

You too can fly to Sydney and experience the beach lifestyle in Bondi by flying through http://www.webjet.com.au or by booking flights through http://www.zuji.com.au.

Check the links below:

http://www.webjet.com.au/flights

http://www.webject.co.nz/flights

http://www.zuji.com.au

 

A tribute to the victims of Bali bombing in 2002

Bondi Skate Park
The edge of the cliff at the western side

The pro side of Bondi

A Day Trip To The Blue Mountains in Sydney, Australia

Australia, Oceania

There comes a time in one’s life when you just stop giving a care on what the world says, especially on things superficial.

This is what happened when I turned 25. I stopped giving a damn on what others say, or think about me, how I look, what I do, and what I say.

As a result, I have become the opinionated, independent and devil may care person I am today. Unfortunately, I have also gained a few unwanted pounds after avoiding those long hours in the gym since I no longer care if I am toned and buff, and it has been a mighty struggle ever since to lose the bulge.

While being a plus-size traveler has never hindered any of my previous adventures, I must say that it has been a major factor in the activities I choose to do in any particular city or country.

This means no mountain climbing, no distance walking and nothing too strenuous. Instead, I stick to the more leisurely and brainy things to do such as museum hopping, pubcrawls, food trips, and guided architecture and landmarks sightseeing.

When I decided to come visit Australia last December, I was bent on sticking to my usual routine and for the most part, I did.

For two weeks, I explored the various museums in Sydney (The Rocks Museums, Museum of Contemporary Art and Art Gallery of NSW). I checked out the major landmarks such as the Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge, Botanical Gardens, Bondi and Coogee beaches.

And I explored the various gustatory delights of China Town and Market St.

But when I was presented with the chance to explore the Blue Mountains, I threw caution to the wind and decided to brave a really taxing activity I know to be very difficult for me.

Lincoln’s Rock

Lincoln’s Rock

On the morning of  my Blue Mountain tour, the sky was pretty overcast. Halleluiah, I told myself. At least, I wouldn’t have to contend with the famous Australian heat when I finally scale up the mountain.

The two-hour drive from central station to the greater Blue Mountains Area was uneventful.Our first stop was breakfast at Leura Village where you can see lots of cafe and restaurants.

We then proceeded to Lincoln’s Rock where we stayed for 15 minutes to get an appreciation of the Jamison Valley. This lookout named after the famous mountainer Lincoln Hall features the giant slab of sandstone on the edge of the valley.

This rock is also famously called the honeymoon rock due to its popularity with couples. True enough, two sepaate couples were having their pre-nup photos during our visit.

This part of the tour is the easiest and serves as the prelude.

Wentworth Falls and Jamison Lookout

Wentworth Falls
 The difficulty of the next part of the tour grew exponentially as our guide led us downward to Jamison lookout.

It was during this portion that I realized that the overcast morning was bad news. There was a mild dew and it was making the steps downward more difficult and dangerous. All the while, our guide with the longest legs I have seen, was speeding as he tells stories about the blue mountains discovery by the Europeans, and how eucalyptus trees gave rise to the place’s name.

Irregular and jagged shape rocks and the slippery loam soil made it difficult and I was beginning to fall behind the rest of the tour.

I would make time and catch up during the flattened section of the mountain.

Alarm bells rang when the tour made its way even further down the mountain range to get a closer view of the Wentworth falls.

The falls is pretty but nothing spectacular.

What I found even more amazing was the view when we were traversing the national pass, a narrow, gated way built at the side of the cliff. The view was simply jaw dropping.

All my excitement evaporated when the guide announceed that we were to scale up the mountain on the way up to the Wentworth Falls picnic area where we will have our light lunch.

I struggled to keep up with my fitter and taller tourmates who effortlessly skipped large rocks and slippery roads on the way to the picnic grove.

I was falling behind father and farther and the tour guide finally noticed. He advised me to take it slower and pace myself.

After several stops and heavy breathing, I made my way to the picnic area. I was welcomed by encouraging messages and pats on the back from my tourmates.

Great Staircase Walk 

I honestly thought that it would get easier after that. But to my dismay, the tour guide silently approached me and asked whether I was up for the next and most difficult part of the tour.

He wasn’t kidding. By taking the great staircase walk, I would have to descend down the mountain through a thousand and one stone steps before making my way up, passing through old rainforests.

I checked my body and heartbeat. I was breathing heavily, but ultimately, I said yes.

To say that this pass is risky and difficult may be one of the biggest understatements of the year. This pass is crazy. it’s hell.

The rocks are sharper and the steps are bigger and farther apart, which makes it diffilcult for everyone. Even the young Scandinavians and Europeans in the tour, who obviously have long legs, were having a hard time, keeping a steady rhythm. Beads of sweat covered everyone’s faces and everyone’s breathing became ragged.

I could feel my legs beginning to numb and my chest trying to explode so I took a lot of small breaks (I mean every 5 minutes) just to keep moving. I don’t want to end up stranded in that dark, wet place.

Unfortunately, those small breaks left me at the back of the pack and after two or three turns, I completely lost the tour.

My guide (thankfully) went back and cheered me on but I was really slow. He had to give up and climb back ahead to advise everyone that we are getting delayed.

The entire walk takes approximately two hours but I must have taken a lot longer, maybe 2:30.

I found my way back to the stone hut where the tour was waiting. This time, I was welcomed with applause. Some of them may have been genuine claps of appreciation, but I know that some were irritated by my very slow progress.

The Three Sisters

View of The Three Sisters from Echo Point

Thankfully, the last part of the tour was the easiest. We sat just on the bus and rode to Echo Point near Katoomba to see the three sisters.

The three sisters are actually three sandstone peaks overlooking the Jamison valley. They were formed through erosion thousands of years ago, in the land where the Gundungurra and Darug people used to live. Echo Point has the best view of the three sisters and the other cliffs of the valley. You can also see from here the Ruined Castle and Mount Solitary.

On our way back to Sydney, most members of the tour were asleep following the strenuous hike up and down the Blue mountain range.

I, however, was silent and pensieve. I was congratulating myself for overcoming a challenge I never thought I could take, I also had to overcome jeers from naysayers.

As soon I as arrived in my hotel room, I jumped to my bed for a much needed rest.

You too can experience the Blue Mountains adventure by visiting Sydney through http://www.webjet.com.au or book your flights through http://www.zuji.com.au.
Check out the links below: