“Oh you’ll love the food,” was the instant reaction whenever I told anyone I was planning a trip to Malaysia. “It’s the best thing about the place.” Having an aversion to all things hailing from the sea, I was skeptical. Was Malaysian food really for me? I knew I’d have to give it a try to find out, and how better to taste the local food than through locals’ eyes (or tastebuds)? So I set out on an evening with Food Tour Malaysia to discover for myself if Malaysian food would live up to its hype.
While I’ll be the first to defend hostels, there’s nothing quite like treating yourself to a little luxury every once in a while when traveling. Where better to pamper yourself than Bali, so I spent my last two nights on the Indonesian island in the lovely Watermark Hotel & Spa in Jimbaran. Read on for my thoughts!
Here’s a fact I bet you didn’t know about me: I’m a published Los Angeles Times writer. Big deal, right? Uhhh, perhaps let me explain first. In fourth grade, my teacher asked the class to write a blurb about our most memorable vacations. She submitted our assignments to the L.A. Times, and I got my first brush with fame when mine was published in the children’s section. So, okay, perhaps I can’t exactly include this feat on my resume, but, hey, it’s technically true!
The topic of my paragraph? A series of trips that even today hold a very special place in my heart. For several summers in a row, when I was aged roughly nine through twelve, my extended family cruised the Hawaiian islands with American Hawaii Cruises on the S.S. Independence.
Loud, crowded, hot, and humid. That’s how I expected many parts of Southeast Asia to be, and, on my first day in Indonesia, it was already living up to expectations as sweat dripped down my face while I weaved through people hunting desperately for my hostel on a street with no numbers. To be fair, I had kicked off this leg of the trip in Kuta, Bali, which is known mostly for being a drunken backpacker party spot, not exactly the atmosphere I was looking for.
Those preconceptions were quickly whisked away when I arrived in and settled into the small island of Gili Trawangan the next day, the topic for a future post. Returning to Bali after, I gradually began to embrace the road traffic and crowded tourist spots as part of the culture. Nonetheless, a quiet sanctuary was just what I was looking for to prepare myself for the next few months in Asia, and I certainly found it at Ubud Dedari Villas.
Three weeks into New Zealand, I’ve seen some truly remarkable sights. Mountains, lakes, beaches, islands, you name it. But reflecting back on my time here so far, the highlight would have to be the unbelievable sights of South Island fjord Milford Sound.
After flying from Queenstown to Milford Sound with Air Milford, I thought the sights of the day couldn’t possibly get any more awe-inspiring. But there was more! With Air Milford‘s fly-cruise-fly tour, after seeing Milford Sound from above, it was time to see it up close and personal with a Southern Discoveries cruise.
Slovenia? Wait, you mean Slovakia? Where the heck is that? For a place as unbelievably breathtaking as Slovenia, the country seems to have little recognition in the eyes of the world. With just over two million inhabitants, Slovenia is only country #144 in terms of population, and it is often overshadowed by its tourist hotspot neighbors including Italy and Austria. But it’s also one of my favorite countries in the world, and if it hasn’t been on your travel radar, get it on there now!
Speaking to people who had traveled to New Zealand before, there was one spot every person recommended: Milford Sound. The dramatic fiord (“sound” is a misnomer) had been high on my bucket list for ages, but little did I know just how spectacular of an experience I would have, arriving via a scenic flight with Air Milford.
For as popular of a destination as Milford Sound is, it’s surprisingly difficult to get to. Most make their way from Queenstown, but the winding bus ride can take up to five hours each way, which will end up taking up almost an entire day. Meanwhile, Air Milford can get you there in just 35 minutes…and, on top of that, fly you over some of the most stunning scenery in the world.
In the last few years, Christchurch, New Zealand has become all but synonymous with one event: the 2011 earthquake that devastated the city. The earthquake has played a core role in shaping Christchurch’s current identity, in many ways for the best, as the city continues to rebuild itself. With relatively affordable flights from Sydney to Christchurch, I made New Zealand’s third (and the South Island’s first) largest city the kickoff point for my massive trip around the world that I set off on a week ago.