Category Archives: Travel Log

Cairns – Day 1

Monday, 27 November 2017

4 am – Waking up at this hour on holiday = death.

5:15 am – Uber to Sydney Airport.

7:25 am – My brother and I had one backpack each. This is worth mentioning because I usually “pack the whole house”. It felt so good to travel light!

Thank God our flight was ON TIME! I was prepared for a possible delay. Our plane took off at about 7:50 am.

2 hours and 45 mins later…

9:45 am – Arrived at Cairns Airport. Just FYI: Queensland is one hour behind Sydney. So, we “gained one hour” (YAY!). Our shuttle bus (free service) to our accommodation was already waiting for us at the pick up area.

10 ish am – We stayed at Caravella Backpackers (The Esplanade) which was at the esplanade (obviously). There’s another branch (Caravella Central Backpackers) right smack in the city where all the shops are. In terms of which one is better, you decide:

The Esplanade – Opposite the sea, park and play area, peaceful and quiet, 15 – 20 min walk to main shopping/food area.

City Centre – Near shops and food, not as quiet and peaceful, nearer to the reef fleet terminal (meeting point for most tours).

Thank God our room was ready when we got there. We settled down and asked Mr Google/Instagram for the best place to have FOOD!

11:30 am – We made our way to Caffiend for brunch.

It was about 20 – 25 mins walk from our accommodation.

Eggs, salmon, beetroot and avocado on toast.Breakfast burger with bacon and egg.

This was our first proper meal of the day (since 4am).

                                                                         We were FAMISHED.

Of course, there was COFFEE! To be honest, coffee from Caffiend was not great. Way too acidic for me.

We spent the entire day walking around the city centre. Safe to say we covered EVERY corner!

The town is everything you can expect from a typical tourist area with loads of coffee shops, factory outlets, Aussie brand stores, souvenir shops etc.

4 ish pm – After all that walking, we were hungry before dinner time. We were deciding what to eat when we stumbled upon this local pizza place. The smell was incredible and they were offering special deals! #winning

15 dollars for this fresh family-size handmade pizza loaded with toppings! So worth it!

Pizza with a view.

5 ish pm – Went back to the room for a short rest.

6:30 pm – Played around in the park. We squeezed in a super short workout (mostly play)! We then walked along the Esplanade all the way to the reef fleet terminal. We had to go there the next day for our tour so we decided to check it out to avoid getting lost. It was a lot cooler at night with the breeze (35 degrees during the day).

Took a dip at the The Esplanade pool.

Had gelato at Devine gelato. The shop was not as fancy as the other gelato places but we decided to trust the ratings (4.7/5). It definitely did not disappoint! We found out that the place was run by a family and they make fresh gelato every day! So, never judge a book by its cover (HAAAA!).

The rum and raisin was SO GOOD!

Picked up some snacks at Woolies before heading back to our room. We were super tired and slept before 11pm.

Stay tuned for Day 2 – The Great Barrier Reef Tour!

*Accommodation was booked via booking.com

*All tours were booked via lastminute.com.au

These websites made it easy with loads of deals, free cancellations and no commitment or upfront payment required. This is NOT an ad or sponsored post. Just my honest opinion after going through MANY different websites.

Cycling – My New “Running”

Happy 1st Month (and a few days) of 0 mileage – the longest zero-running streak I’ve ever been on since 2013. I didn’t even stop for that long when I was down with dengue. *Pats self on the back*

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In the past month, I’ve done quite a bit of reflection. Giving up running wasn’t as hard as I thought. In fact, I don’t really miss it… yet! The crazy-obsessive-over achiever-competitive lil person in me feels at peace.

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Running is not bad. It was just how I saw/took it. Sports are always fun……until they get competitive. I was probably much more focused on the end result rather than enjoying the journey of getting there. It became rather destructive. I lost sight of many things along the way and started to take out the fun in running.

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I’ve always wanted to try new things. But at the same time, I was just so stuck with running. Everything revolved around it, even when I wasn’t competing! I just kept wanting more out of it.


 

CyclingWith injury, I was FORCED to change. God is amazing. Just trust His timing. He took something away from me, but He left me with something even BETTER!
And I pray that I will look at things from new perspectives.


 The transition (from running to cycling) was easy, with the help of my friends! I have rediscovered my love for cycling and just doing something DIFFERENT/NEW!

IMG_1354Rummaging through the stuff to find the perfect one!Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

There was an extra bicycle in the shed and it was perfect (almost) for my size. I am a pretty small person. It is not every day that you find something lying around that fits. Except for my head. I have a big head and I need an XXXXXXXXXL helmet (hahhahhaha! I kid you not!).

IMG_1355Thanks to Ross for choosing the bike, fixing it up and adding some blinkers! 🙂 Oh, and of course, for taking me on my first ride.

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Excited to head out!

 

13575877_489547184573388_9577804946952805_oThankfully, my Garmin FR235 has a bike function! 😀

IMG_1259Perks of riding – you can bring your phone and capture beautiful sceneries along the way! I never do that with running.

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New AdventuresIMG_1310Riding selfies. Attempt at YOUR OWN RISK!

IMG_1273To the Bay!

IMG_1670Venturing out on a new route! Thanks Matt! 🙂

IMG_1674We made it to the beach after MANY detours and road closures.

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I absolutely love discovering new places, beaches, dirt roads, catching sunsets and just being in the moment and enjoying God’s creation. It is just so refreshing!

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IMG_1677Spot the airplane!

I still need more practice with the bike, especially BALANCE!

I will let you guys know how that goes!

Till then, KEEP MOVING!

xoxo

Staying Active on Vacay

I am back! Phew, CRAZY few weeks. We’re talking about endless assignments, presentations, studies, work, chores, sleepless nights and some running + strength training.

Final week of class before the exams and then SEM BREAK! So keen for it to be over! 😉

How is everyone else? 🙂


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Anyway! This post is on how to stay active when you’re on a vacay (speaking of which, I need a vacay!):

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Are you a routine junkie? Workout junkie? Vacay junkie?

*ME!*


The thing about being a routine junkie is that going on a vacay will potentially ruin it. I must admit, I get a little anxious about that! I am all about routines.


I’m here to talk about BALANCE: Not completely throwing your routine out the window but also not sticking to it like a junkie

It is not always easy to find a gym or a safe place to run (depends on where you go). So that might make it more difficult to get your usual workout in. If sticking to your routine stresses you out, what you need to do is throw THAT out the window. But not the working out part.


Staying ACTIVE on vacay:

1. EXPLORE

You’re on vacation! Take this time to get out there and EXPLORE the new city/place. Take it as an adventure.

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The best way to explore: WALKING/RUNNING/JOGGING

You get the best of both worlds: A chance to explore AND get your workout in!Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

My Garmin FR235 has been my best friend! It makes working out SO EASY! Just PRESS and GO! So fun to look at the stats after, even if it was just a walk in the park. 🙂

2. Free and Easy

It is always good to have a PLAN but if you’re like me and you get upset if you don’t get to stick to your schedule/plan, get rid of that!

I tend to have an “all or nothing” approach. If I fail to stick to my plan, I’d do NOTHING at all. I try to balance between having a plan and being okay if I don’t adhere to it.

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Take it easy and go with what you have. If you have time, GO! If not, CHILL… with coffee! Your body probably needs the rest.

3. MIX IT UP!

I like running, but it is not always convenient to do so.

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Get creative. Do a short HIIT workout/sprints that can be done anywhere! Anything that will get your heart rate up. Set your alarm, get up to catch the sunrise and WORKOUT! I LOVE that fresh feeling after my workout. If you’re the same, then just do it!

Trust me, it will be worth it!

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Example:

4 rounds of:

-Pulse jump squats x20

-Cross mountain climbers x20

-Elevated Push ups x20

-Leg raises x20

1:30 min break

4 rounds of:

-Burpees x15

-Tricep dips x20

-Russian Twists x40

-Jack Knives x20

REPEAT x2!

4. To GO GET FOOD!IMG_3092

OH YEAH! The best kind of workout/activity is going to get FOOD! Walk/run/cycle to your favourite breakfast/brunch/coffee/ice cream place!

Explore local cuisines!FullSizeRender_1I earned my ice cream!

5. Try a NEW sport/activity

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Cycling is a fun way to explore a new place! I don’t normally cycle, so this was something “new” to me.

IMG_2402Triathlete in the making. hahahhhahahhaha. JOKES!

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Go on a hike! Walking/hiking is so good for you. My favourite aerobic workout! Get your heart pumping with a few inclines/climbs. Trust me, your heart will thank you for it. 🙂

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Soak in your surroundings. God NEVER fails to amaze me. His creations are breathtaking.

DCIM102GOPROSnorkeling. Swimming. Underwater fun! There are SO many ways to stay active!

DCIM102GOPROJust. AWESOME.

<3

Enjoy your next vacay + getting your heart rate up!

PS: If you happen to be planning your next trip, check out HotelsCombined to help you find and make the best accommodation decisions + great deals!

For more info on my Garmin FR235 or any other models, check out http://www.aeco.com.my or like their FB page !

Do let me know if you’re interested in any of the models. 😉

Cheers!

Kona Town, Hawaii – Last Day

Day 9 – 26th January 2016, Tuesday

Journey back to Kona Town

Wake up time: 7:30am

Some shots of our accommodation at Volcano Hale:IMG_4008

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Living area with fireplace.

IMG_4007The kitchen area.

 

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Up the stairs!IMG_4005
The entrance to our room.

It was another early start! I wanted to put in a run at Volvano park just before we left but when I woke up at 6am, it was below 10degrees and it was PITCH BLACK! No street lights, nothing! I didn’t bother moving from my comfy bed.

IMG_4014We packed up, checked out and had coffee and cup noodles before driving back to Kona Town.IMG_4018

Our first stop: Papakolea Green Sand Beach (one of the two green sand beaches in the US)

We heard a lot about the Green Sand Beach and apparently, it is one of the MUST-SEES in Hawai’i.

Green Sand Beach is not Green Sand Beach without GREEN SAND! Yes, the sand IS GREEN. It is green because of the glassy crystal Olivine. Olivine comes from olivine-rich lava that spewed out of cinder cones years ago.

Olivine is locally known as “Hawaiian Diamond” and it is denser than the other rocks/lava flows. The ocean current separates these heavier particles and concentrates them to form this beach!

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My first “outdoor” toilet experience. It was HORRIBLE! T_T

Like all things in life, good things don’t come easy! And that includes getting to this beach! It was quite remote and not easy to reach!

We drove to a harbor where they had parking lots.

2 ways to get to Green Sand Beach:

-Take a 4WD car

-HikeIMG_4759Loving the Garmin FR235! 😀

Distance to beach: 4.5km one way

We thought we’d hike/walk/jog there and take the 4WD back (to save time). On the way there, the guide in the 4WD told us that it was easier to take the 4WD THERE and HIKE back because heading there was mainly uphill! HE WAS RIGHT! It was not easy! IMG_4054The hike was hot with the sun blazing and shining directly in your face with no cover from trees/clouds. The terrain was also not easy to navigate with lots of rolling hills, sand, rocks and dried out grass. IMG_4024BUT, the view made it ALL worth it.IMG_4020 IMG_4050 IMG_4056 IMG_4059

IMG_4053I thought it was a really tough hike but my mom made it all the way! SO PROUD OF MY MOMMY BEAR!

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Enjoying the view!

IMG_4068The cliffs above Green Sand Beach.Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

You can see the GREEN sand.IMG_4069I climbed down the lava cliff to get to the bay. I made a mistake of NOT wearing my shoes! IT WAS BURNING HOT! I had to rush to the sea to cool off!

IMG_4070 IMG_4077It was a steep hike down!

IMG_4078 IMG_4071 IMG_4072 IMG_4074 IMG_4079 Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset IMG_4080After enjoying the beach and the view, we took the 4WD back which cost $15 each! It was worth it because by then, the heat had gotten to us. We were exhausted and hungry.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetGarmin Panda says it is Kona Coffee Latte O’clock!

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetWe settled for a cafe along the way to Kona Town. I cannot remember the name of this place but they had decent food!

We were so tired, we drove straight to our AirBnb accommodation in Kona town. IMG_4128Kona town Oasis!

IMG_4127It was a really nice place that was super central! It was just 300m walk to Ali’i Drive (tourist area). It was also just 10mins away from the airport, shopping malls, food etc. The couple who runs this place actually started it to accommodate athletes that were competing in the Kona Ironman!

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Perfect day out!

After resting for a bit, I went for a run! It was one of the best running experiences along the Kona Ironman route! I didn’t know that that was THE Ironman route! Our Airbnb host, Marc, said that you can see 100s of swimmers training every morning! I ran to the pier to check out the place where they do their bike transitions. It is a big event and there were many permanent signs everywhere.

It was a pleasant run along the killer tough route! It was hilly and windy. I ran right along the coast and occasionally, sea water would splash and burn your eyes and skin. Too salty! There were SO many people out there training, running, swimming, biking, surfing etc. I followed a guy who was doing his brick training! It was fun to pace with someone else. Great way to connect with people too! I loved every bit of running in this town. Kinda miss it now.


Day 10 – 27th January 2016, Wednesday

We didn’t do much at night, mainly packing. Our flight was at 7:50am the next day and we had to be up by 4am! IMG_4172The al fresco style airport at Big Island! Yes, that’s the waiting area.

IMG_4186Coffee and breakfast at Honolulu airport.

IMG_4177Mahalo Hawai’i!

I am very grateful to be able to visit such a beautiful place! This trip was fun (SO FREAKIN AWESOME OMG!) and it also made me appreciate the beauty of nature (even more!) and the wonderful hands of our CREATOR.

Just. Too. PERFECT.

W.O.W!

Volcano Park, Hawaii – Day 8

Day 8 – 25th January 2016, Monday

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my brother, Ethan!


Journey down South to the Volcanoes National Park

Wake up time: 7:00am

Had breakfast of yoghurt and a mandarin orange.

Departed from Hilo Reeds Bay Hotel at 8:30am.

IMG_3610I was still a little hungry.

IMG_3613Stopped at Subway to pack a sandwich.

IMG_3617We arrived at Kilauea Chalet (where we would stay for the night) at 10am. It was still too early to check-in. They offered complimentary coffee at the reception area. We packed 2 cups to-go. It was one of the best and most fragrant Kona coffees that I had throughout my trip!


 

Volcanoes National Park

IMG_3618Since we couldn’t check-in, we decided to head to the Volcanoes National Park. It was just right around the corner from our chalet.

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We stopped at the Kilauea Visitor Center to get some information on what to do/see and also to pick up the park map. They had a suggestion list of what to cover which was super helpful! My mom and I hadn’t planned on what to do at the park.


 

Sulphur Banks (Ha’akulamanu)

IMG_3626We started off with the Sulphur Banks (Ha’akulamanu) walk from the Kilauea Visitor Center.

IMG_3632 It was 0.6km one-way. This trail connected to the Steam Vents (Wahinekapu).

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IMG_3638Active Halema’uma’u Crater (Check out the night glowing version of this below! At the end of this post that is)

From there, it was about 0.8km back to the visitor center. It was around 12pm. We took a short break (we had our packed food/snacks/drinks) before pushing off to Kilauea Iki.


 

Kilauea Iki Crater

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Distance: 6.4 km loop trailIMG_3645

Estimated time: 2-3 hours leisure hikeIMG_3649

Kilauea Iki descends 400ft through the native rain forest into the crater. The hike goes across a hardened lava lake that is currently steaming from the 1959 eruption. IMG_4451We walked around the rim of the Kilauea Iki Crater. It was a beautiful view from the top! We were advised to go for this trail but it was one of the longest (in terms of distance) trail routes in the whole park. We didn’t know if we had the time (we also couldn’t estimate how long it would take) to cover this trail. We only had one day in the park and we had no idea if this was worth our time.IMG_4452

As we were walking along the rim, I saw people walking across the crater! I knew that I HAD TO DO THIS TRAIL! And I am SO GLAD that I did! I didn’t know that the trail included a walk into the crater. It was THE HIGHLIGHT of my trip!

IMG_3650The trail started off with a 0.6 mile jungle hike down to the crater.

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I turned on my Garmin FR 235 just so that I could track my walk on the map. The crater was HUGE!IMG_4270

I did a light jog down to the crater as I didn’t want to waste much time. My mom knew that she would take too much time to do the full trail, so she only hiked down to the crater and then back up.IMG_4268

It was a nice gradual descend down to the crater. When I was down there, I took my time to truly be in the moment and to soak in my surroundings. IMG_4266Words cannot describe how it felt like being down there. You feel SO SMALL. As if I am not small enough! I was just speechless and in AWE.IMG_4267

IMG_4265IMG_3671I was not posing for this! I was simply not ready!

As I was alone, I had to take many self-timed shots and selfies. IMG_3651As the crater was so vast, they stacked hardened pieces of lava (as in the picture) to mark the route. I used them as my tripod. I was being very resourceful. 😉

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IMG_3656Came down through this path.

IMG_3659As the hike was pretty time consuming, there were not many people that attempted it. I was alone for most parts of the hike across the crater which was both peaceful and lonely.

IMG_3735Failed jump shot. The same goes for the rest of the shots!

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IMG_3811Failed shot turned artistic. Not too shabby!

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IMG_3818Steamy.

IMG_3832Chilling on what used to be molten lava!

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IMG_3855I got lost a few times! It was not easy to navigate your way through once you’re down there!

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IMG_3860I took some time to look for the trail head that led back up to the top. The other end was rocky unlike the opposite end which was flat and smooth. As such, I had some difficulty locating the trail.

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Hello from the other side… of the crater!

It was another 0.7 mile jungle hike back up. Again, I jogged my way up! Going up this end was much steeper with more stairs. I would have preferred to go down this way and back up the way I came down.

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Tip: If you ever attempt the Kilauea Iki Crater trail, go down the right side (look out for the 0.7 mile hike marker) instead of the left side (0.6 mile hike).

Total active + photo time: About 1 hr 15 mins (please take into account that I jogged down and up the trails)

I took the same amount of time as my mom which was perfect as she didn’t have to wait for me!


Thurston Lava Tube (Nahuku)

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Time: 2:15pm

Distance: 0.6 km loop trail

It was a very short walk through the lush rain forest and through the 500 year old lava tube!

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Check-In: Kilauea Hospitality Group @ Volcano Hale

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The latest check-in time was 5pm. After the Thurston Lava Tube trail, we still had much to see. Since we were still near our chalet, we decided to back track to check in first before continuing the rest of the tour. GOOD CALL! We would not have made it if we had continued.

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Kilauea Hospitality Group has 3 properties. We were at Volcano Hale. It is a little house with 5 rooms, 3 bathrooms, dining area, kitchen area and a living room with a fireplace.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetVery cozy! I would definitely recommend staying here!


Crater Rim Drive and the Chain of Craters Road

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After checking in, we did the drive all the way down to the end of the Chain of Craters Road.

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Distance: 61km round-trip drive

Total driving times (one-way): 45 minutes down winding narrow roads

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetThis road descends 3700ft to the coast and it ends where the lava has covered 10 miles of road since 1986. There were many trails/hikes along the way (Pu’u Huluhulu Cinder Cone, Pu’u Loa Petroglyphs, Mauna Ulu Lava Shield, Devastation trail) but we didn’t have time to do them.

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At the end of the road, we went down to see the Holei Sea Arch which was formed by wave erosion.

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IMG_4450Walked down another 800m on the emergency access route.

IMG_3911We had our packed late lunch/tea in our car before driving back up at sunset. It was close to 6pm.


 

Thomas A. Jaggar Museum

Museum operating hours: 10am-8pm daily

Viewing point: 24 hours

The active vent of the Kilauea volcano is located within the Halema’uma’u Crater in the caldera of Kilauea. We were there to watch the glowing fume cloud, a sign that there is hot molten magma churning in the lava lake below.

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Robust plume of volcanic gas.

We were at 4000ft elevation and the temperature dropped to 10 degrees. We went back to our hotel for a hot shower and to put our feet up after a long day of walking and hiking!

Honestly, if you are ever in Hawai’i, the volcanoes are a MUST! I LOVE this place so much! Don’t forget to bring some warm clothing and to look UP at the sky at night. 😉 You WILL BE AMAZED!

Day 9 – Back to Kona town the next morning which would mark the end of our trip! Till next time!

xoxo