The Highlights of 26 Months Traveling & Living Around The World

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I’m currently 40,000 feet above earth flying from Brussels to Philadelphia.

I’m about three glasses of red wine deep, and it’s bringing out some serious emotions.

HOLY SHIT…I’M GOING HOME…

For those who haven’t been following along for that long, I haven’t been in America since June 2014.  That’s right — it’s been over 26 months since I’ve been stateside.  While that may not be too long for some travel blogging nomads I know – it’s a very long time for this guy.   

It’s pretty crazy for me to think about everything that has happened in the past couple years, and all the fantastic people I’ve had the pleasure to spend time with.  

Not to be too cliche — but the past two years of travel and living abroad have shaped me into the man I am today.  I’ve learned so much about the world, and what I want for my future.  

I’ve established goals, discovered new passions, and have realized that ambition is key to a successful life.  

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While my future plans are still somewhat up in the air –  I have a much more clear idea about the type of life I want to live.

As one of my favorite travel quote says:

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.   – Mark Twain


I’ve pursed my dreams of traveling the world while I’m young….

I may not have a fancy car, a wardrobe full of designer clothes, or own any property…

But I’m filthy rich in life experience.


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So I’m going to utilize this flight to write down some of my most memorable travel highlights and achievements from the past 26 months of traveling, studying, working, and living abroad. 

I’m writing this post not only as a fun recap, but as a personal memoir to to reflect on these life-changing experiences.


To give you a general idea of where I’ve been, here’s the basic timeline:

June – August 2014 – Summer in Barcelona/ European Travels

September 2014-2015 – Full year backpacking around Asia

September 2015 – May 2016 – Life in Sydney

June 2016 – Singapore & Sri Lanka

July + August 2016 – Back to Europe / Balkans / Flight Home


So without further ado…let’s take a quick look and reminisce at the past couple years of my life…

#JONESAROUNDTHEWORLD


 Summertime in Barcelona

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Since I decided to complete my Master’s Degree online, it meant that I could choose to study anywhere in the world.  Well, when my backpacking trip to South America got cancelled, I immediately knew where I wanted to go.

On June 5th, 2014 — I flew on a one-way ticket to my favorite city in the world: Barcelona, Spain. 

This was the beginning of this epic 26 month adventure.  I spent 2.5 months in Barcelona, and had some of the craziest and most unforgettable moments of my life.  

Barcelona is known for it’s exceptional nightlife, so I was a tad bit worried about balancing my studies and my love for quality techno — but I managed to get straight A’s in my classes, and had the time of my life with some really awesome people. 

I’ve lived in Barcelona for two different summer seasons now (2012 & 2014), and I can confidently say it is the one of the best places in the world during this time of the year.  The amazing food, vibrant culture, and insane nightlife will always keep me coming back for more.

NOS VEMOS, BARCA


Sonus Music Festival

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After a very hectic “goodbye week” in Spain, I made my way over to Croatia to hit up one of the better music festivals I’ve ever attended.

SONUS exceeded all of my expectations.  The music was simply incomparable to any other festival I had experienced, the location on Pag island was stunning, and I spent the week with two of my best Dutch friends from Eindhoven (De Gekste!).    

Dank u wel Joost & Stijn.  Looking forward to our next reunion!    

Besides a lost iPhone and damaged liver – it was the perfect ending to my summer in Europe.


Launching This Website in Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka

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First off — I actually didn’t even really care to visit Sri Lanka.

The only reason I flew there was because I was maximizing my United Airlines miles I obtained through savvy “travel-hacking”.  But I’m so glad I did, because Sri Lanka has now become one of my favorite countries to travel through.

During this first trip to Sri Lanka, I spent about 10 full days in Arugam Bay, and it was the first time I truly felt like a long-term solo traveler.  I stayed at this place called The Beach Hut (an absolute must for anyone traveling to A-Bay), and this is where I launched Jones Around The World

I had been preparing to do so for awhile, and finally got around to it.  This was almost two years ago now, and I can’t believe how far this blog has come. 

I had no idea what I was doing when I started blogging, but starting this website marked the beginning of a completely separate journey. 


One Month Exploring Bali & The Gili Islands

Bali life is the good life. #potatohead #beachclub #seminyak #Indonesia

A photo posted by Dave ✈️ Jones Around the World (@jonesaroundtheworld) on

I made it back to South-East Asia — and the first stop was Bali, Indonesia. 

This month was seriously awesome.  Not only did I get the chance to meet-up with some family, but I had such a blast exploring new parts of Bali and Gili Trawangan.  

It was also great that one of my friends that I met in Vietnam decided to fly all the way out from Hawaii to travel with me for a few weeks!  Shoutout to Elaine!   

From the moto explorations of Bali, the booze cruises and sunsets on Gili Trawangan, and the awesome fellow backpackers I had the pleasure of meeting — this month in Indonesia definitely had to be included in my travel highlights. 

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Becoming an Honorary Kuala Lumpur Expat

During my first trip to South-East Asia, I had the pleasure of meeting an extremely friendly Kiwi girl named Danielle, and older Aussie bloke named Hutchy.  I met them while backpacking in Langkawi, and I had no idea that meeting them would have such a drastic impact on my future. 

Because of these random travel friendships — I was able to see a completely different side of Kuala Lumpur, and I got the opportunity to become friends with a solid group of expats from all over the world. 

In the past two years, I’ve spent quite a bit of time in Kuala Lumpur, and while I may have never had a full-time job there, I do feel like I became an honorary expat. 

To my KL / Regalia crew — thanks for all the good times, the poker games, and the mojito nights.

Water & Lights show at KLCC

Water & Lights show at KLCC


Wonderfruit Music Festival

Yoga Bass during the sunset during Wonderfruit day 2. What an awesome experience. Namaste.

A photo posted by Dave ✈️ Jones Around the World (@jonesaroundtheworld) on

I haven’t attended many music festivals in Asia, but I would defintely say that Wonderfruit is hands down one of the best parties you can find in the region. 

The vibe, the venue, the food, the people — everything was just perfect. 

Shoutout to Jesse & Scott for being absolute legends.  I’ll be seeing you lads out in Bangkok soon enough I’m sure!  

You can read my full Wonderfruit Review to get a better idea of what I experienced.


Christmas on Koh Tao

The idea of spending Christmas on a tropical island may sound a bit strange, but it was such an incredible experience.

The backpacking culture is very alive and vibrant on Koh Tao, and it was awesome to meet and party with some awesome people from all over the world, as well as be with one of my best friends Cathy on Christmas day!  If you ever get the chance to spend the holidays in Thailand, I would highly recommend it!

If I close my eyes, I can picture myself back there watching the sunset, with a beer in my hand and a santa hat on. 


NYE Full Moon Party & Jungle Rave Shenanigans on Koh Phangan

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Ohh, Koh Phangan – where do I even begin…?

I actually attended two different Full Moon Parties during my first trip to South-East Asia, so I definitely knew what I was getting myself into this time around. 

New Years Eve on Koh Phangan was absolutely mental, and while I wouldn’t necessarily recommend doing the NYE Full Moon Party – I am glad I experienced it for myself. 

This was one week full of neon colors, buckets of Thai whiskey, and dancing until the sun comes up with a global mix of friendly strangers.

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Purchasing My First DSLR 

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If you ask me now…when I really started being a travel blogger — I would tell you it was when I bought my first DSLR camera. 

niI spent a couple days researching the “best DSLR for beginners”, and the top result always seemed to come back to the Nikon D3300 

So I treated myself to an early birthday present — and shelled out close to $500 to purchase this bad boy.

I’ll be honest — I had no idea how to use this camera at first, but I knew that photography was something I wanted to get into, and did my best to learn how to use my new camera.

Looking back on my photos from my first few months of having it, I’m horrified about how truly awful I was.

Travel photography has become a passion of mine, and I’m looking forward to purchasing some advanced camera gear and improving my skills.  

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Chinese New Year in Hong Kong

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I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again — Hong Kong is one of the most vibrant cities in the entire world.

I found a $42 flight from KL – HK, and couldn’t wait to visit a new city during their biggest holiday of the year.  

It might have been ridiculously expensive week, but I think it was worth every penny.  The firework show was quite impressive, the Hong Kong Pub Crawl was a blast, and crossing off Hong Kong Disneyland (being from Anaheim) needed to be done.

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Backpacking The Philippines.  The best month of my life…? 

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I spent one month in the Philippines, and I have nothing but the fondest memories of those 30 days.  I really do think it’s the most beautiful country in South-East Asia, and the entire trip just went so perfectly. 

My Philippines Itinerary article is one of my most read blog posts, and it’s been amazing to help people plan their travels throughout the country.  I regularly receive comments, emails, and messages from people who are about to embark on a trip there, and I’m so glad that information that I have written has made a difference in their travels.

From the amazing island hopping experiences in Palawan, swimming with whale sharks in Cebu, and partying it up in Boracay – this was a month that I will never forget.

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Master’s Degree = Completed

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Most people thought I was crazy to travel the world while simultaneously studying for my Master’s Degree — but I realized is that all you need is a little bit of time management and responsibility, and handling the workload was completely possible.

After about 1.5 years — I finally finished my Master’s Degree in Business Management & Leadership.

I can’t even begin to explain how good of a feeling that was.  I submitted my final assignment in El Nido, Palawan — and celebrated by partying on a private island in the middle of this gorgeous archipelago. 

Don’t know how many other people can say they’ve experienced something like that before…


Loving Life in L-A-O-S

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When I think back on all of my travels through South-East Asia — Laos was easily the most surprising country of them all.

I have no idea why it took me so long to travel through Laos, but the experiences I had in this country were some of the most memorable.  

From relaxing on the 4000 Islands, waterfall explorations through the Bolaven Plateau, and the tubing madness in Vang Vieng — backpacking Laos was almost too much fun.

I also had the pleasure of traveling the country with two really amazing English girls!  Shoutout to Meg & Eliza for an incredible time!  Can’t wait to see you guys again sometime…


One Month in Chiang Mai & Songkran Water Festival

In the travel-blogging / digital nomad community, renting an apartment in Chiang Mai is extremely popular — and I wanted to experience what everyone else was talking about. 

So I found myself a nice studio apartment on AirBNB for $280 U.S.D for the month, and decided to slow down my travels a bit.  I had been on-the-go for quite awhile at this point, and was in desperate need of some rest & relaxation.

It started off with one of my all-time favorite travel experiences: SONGKRAN water festival.  This was just 3-days of epic madness running through the streets of Chiang Mai armed with a water gun.  Check out my Songkran Video below, to get a better understanding. 


Moto Ride from Chiang Mai – Pai

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While most people opt to take the $5 bus through the winding mountains of Northern Thailand, I knew renting a moto was going to be the best way to get to Pai.

Thanks to the power of Facebook, I met an awesome Aussie bloke to make this journey with, and even picked up a fellow backpacker on the road.  Shoutout to Damo & Ilona!  🙂

Everyone loves to talk about how amazing Pai is, and I finally understood what all the hype was about.  There’s tons of incredible things to do in Pai, the food is delicious (and cheap), and the nightlife is surprisingly hectic! 

It’s one of those destinations where you plan on staying two days, and end up staying two months.  I could easily see myself moving to Pai sometime in the future. 


The Paradise Lifestyle on Gili Trawangan

My favorite island in the world…

After a quick return visit to Bali with a friend from California, I decided that living on Gili Trawangan was something I desperately wanted to experience.

So I managed to land a job at the main party hostel on the island called Gili Backpackers.  This place is actually now called Gili Castle, as the island government made the decision to ban all hostels.  

I fell in love with the paradise lifestyle on Gili T.  I was constantly surrounded by wonderful people from around the world, going on epic booze cruises, and showing people around the nightlife hotspots. 

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My days were filled with swimming alongside turtles in perfectly blue waters, and my nights were filled with pub crawls and Joss shots. 

I even got a job offer to stay and work as a bar promoter as well as sell tickets for the booze cruise, but the time had come for me to leave.  I definitely wasn’t ready to go, but my time living on Gili Trawangan was absolutely perfect.  

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Sailing Through Komodo National Park

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This four day trip sailing from Lombok to Flores was easily one of my favorite things I’ve done in South-East Asia. 

The trip was jam-packed with idyllic islands, unbelievable snorkeling, and gorgeous sunsets.  I was also very lucky to share this experience with a stellar group of people from a dozen different countries.

If you ever get a chance to visit Indonesia — exploring Komodo National Park should be a top priority!

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Malaysian Island Adventures

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After returning back to Kuala Lumpur from an epic 2 months in Indonesia — it was time for me to actually explore more of Malaysia.

I spent almost two full months exploring the Perhentian Islands, Pulau Kapas, Tioman Island, and Langkawi.

This was when I truly fell in love with Malaysia.  I was constantly left stunned by it’s natural beauty, the delicious food, friendly culture, and budget travel options.  

I really do think Malaysia is the most underrated country in the South-East Asia.  

During this time was also when I decided to buy my Working Holiday Visa for Australia – probably the most influential decision of my life…

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Paradise…


California Visits

When two of my friends from high-school messaged me on Facebook asking to join me out in South-East Asia, I was so stoked to travel with them for a bit.

I spent two weeks with Rashad in Bali and the Gili Islands, and spent about one week with Gina in Kuala Lumpur & Langkawi.  It had been a long time since I had seen both of these awesome individuals, and we have some pretty epic travel stories together now.

Thanks for the visit guys.  We’ll definitely have to make traveling together a bigger priority!  I know that neither of you guys like long-haul flights, but I promise i’ll make it worth it.

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Moving to Australia & Getting Settled in Sydney

Cheers!

Cheers mate!

To be honest — my life was kind of a mess when I initially moved to Sydney.

I had been traveling for so long at this point, finances were running extremely low, and I was just a bit of a wreck.  I didn’t have any decent clothes, was nervous about finding work, and made this huge life decision to move to another country.

I tried not to let it show, but I was dealing with quite a bit of stress.  It really took me awhile to get settled in Sydney, but I think that’s normal for anyone who just spent over a  year backpacking around Asia.

If it weren’t for the generosity of my mate Ed, and the Ferguson family, who let me stay at their house for the first 5 weeks I was in Sydney — I honestly don’t know what I would have done.

I started making decent money, found an affordable house to live in, and finally felt settled in Sydney.  I paid off my debt, was able to save money by utilizing websites like OZCodes, and started to feel like I was getting my life together…

I was no longer a backpacking nomad.  I found a home.  While my plans to move back to Sydney have been unexpectedly postponed, I know I’ll find myself living there again in the near future.

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There’s no place like home…


Halloween Forest Raving

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Being American — Halloween is a pretty big deal to me.  

Fortunately, the Sydney squad all rallied together, and we made the journey to a secret location for one epic party called The Afterlife.  

It was the first music event I attended in Australia, and was also the start of a beautiful festival squad.  We were missing a few key members, but we definitely made up for it at future events.  

Read my full Afterlife Event Review for a better idea of what this experience was like.    

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My First Press Trip as a Travel Blogger — INDONESIA

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I had been blogging for a little bit over a year and hadn’t really made too much money or gotten anything in return for all my hard work…

This website was started purely for hobby purposes, but it’s been really cool to see Jones Around The World grow into something much bigger. 

This was an all-expenses paid trip to Bali, Lombok, and Komodo National Park.  The trip was hectic to say the least, but it was such a solid experience with a wonderful group of fellow travel bloggers.  

If you guys are reading this — thanks for an epic trip everyone!  Was a pleasure traveling with you, and looking forward to our next press trip together! 

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New Years Eve Celebrations in Sydney

Since it was my first New Years Eve in Sydney, I knew that I had to check out the legendary firework display over Sydney Harbour.

So I joined my friends Ellie & Kenny (who were visiting from KL), and cruised out to the park at Mrs. Macquaries Chair.  It was a long day of eating, drinking, and taking photos.

We were all a bit surprised they packed in so many people into this small area to watch the fireworks, and didn’t really provide any entertainment.  But I will say that the firework display was the best I have ever seen.

Field Day

There’s no better way to start the year off right then to hit up an outdoor music festival in downtown Sydney.

We got the whole squad, looking good in our tye dye, and had one epic day dancing to Golden Features, Boys Noize, and Disclosure.

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The House of Shifting Sands

Rent prices in Sydney can get pretty ridiculous at times, so when I was offered a room in a house in Randwick for only 180 per week — I quickly accepted.  When I initially moved in, I was actually only supposed to stay for 3-4 weeks, but the tenant who was supposed to take the room no longer could.

Living in this house was one of the best aspects of my life in Sydney.  It was affordable, it was comfortable, and the house had such an amazing vibe.

But the only way to describe this house is — Organized Chaos

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Why?  Well, because we had a total of 9 people living in that one house.  We had 7 people sleeping in rooms, and 2 extras who used the house but slept in a tent outside, and a car in the driveway.  While it may have been slightly inconvenient, messy, and chaotic at times — it worked for us.

Everyone in the house got along really well, and had a few really epic family parties.  🙂

It was called the “House of Shifting Sands”, because there are always people coming and going, and moving out / moving in.  I’m sad to share that this house is no longer being leased by old my roommates, but I was so glad I got to share that house with them all.

Special shoutout to Tim, Kylie, Niels, Aidan, Rene, Daphne, Jarrod, Giorgia, Ben, Alistair, and Dennis!


The Yacht Social Club

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“Sydney Harbour Is Our Playground”

When it comes to last-minute decisions I made while in Sydney, this might have been the absolute best one.  The location, the music, and the atmosphere is unlike any other party in city.

But that should be expected, right?

Yacht Party in Sydney Harbour?  Yeah…count me in.

Read my full review of The Yacht Social Club, and I guarantee you’ll be adding it to your bucket list.


Buy Tickets for the 2016 / 2017 Season


Joining the GoPro Family

When you grab the attention of a company as big as GoPro, you know you’re doing something right.  I was so stoked to receive the invitation to join the GoPro family.  Having just recently attended their Launch event for the Hero5 and GoPro Karma, I’m excited to continue to use their amazing products are produce some stellar content.  #BeAHero

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Return to Rio

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Looking back on my time living in Sydney, I would have to say that my weekend of camping and dancing at Return to Rio was hands down my favorite weekend in Australia.

Not only did I hear some of the best music I’ve ever heard (DIXON crushed it), but I met some of the coolest people there.  The atmosphere at Return to Rio is hard to explain…I guess you just have to experience it for yourself.

The next Return to Rio is happening in November 11-13, and I’m seriously contemplating flying all the way back to Sydney just so I don’t miss it.  It was THAT much fun.  I’ll be rocking my Zebra Onesie when I get back…

Read my full Return to Rio review to get a better understanding.


#TuneSquad at Groovin The Moo

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This was the last music festival I attended while living in Sydney, and it was definitely good fun.

While there were a lot of aspects of Groovin The Moo I didn’t really enjoy – our squad totally crushed it with our festival gear.

Amazing day of dancing with good friends to quality tunes.  Safia, Golden Features, and Alison Wonderland played incredible sets.

TUNESQUAD–ASSMEBLE


Love & Loss in Sydney

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When it comes to dating – traveling had always kind of inhibited any type of long-term relationship.  But since I was living and working full-time in Sydney, I was able to start seeing someone.  While this relationship had turned into something quite serious, it has recently ended in a rather unexpected, immature, and shocking fashion.  These things happen though, and I’ve learned the hard way that people aren’t always what they seem to be.

As the saying goes…

“Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”

But sometimes I’m not too sure about that…


Sydney Going Away Party

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Was a bloody ripper mate…

I’ve always enjoyed throwing house parties, and my going away function in Sydney was one hell of a party.  It was great to get all my Sydney mates together in one place, and spend one final evening of debauchery with some of my favorite people in the world.

I hate goodbyes…but I’m already looking forward to my “welcome back” party.  🙂


Singapore in Style

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The first stop on my summer travels was the beautiful city / country of Singapore.

I had visited a couple times before, but this was the first Singapore visit with my DSLR — so I spent 3 whole days running around the city taking pictures of absolutely everything.

I gotta say– I think I got some pretty epic shots.

I was also hosted by the amazing Westin Singapore hotel during my stay, and lived it up in pure luxury.

Was the perfect beginning to my summer travels…

I also bought a new MacBook Pro at the Singapore Airport – which was desperately needed.

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June in Sri Lanka + #TBCAsia

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Sri Lanka was the first country I ever felt like a true “solo traveler”, and as previously mentioned, was where I launched Jones Around The World.

So when I got invited to be a hosted blogger for TBC Asia, I could not have been more stoked to return to where it all began.

I spent the entire month of June traveling around this stunning country, and I feel like I could have easily stayed another month or two.

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Read all about my Sri Lanka adventures:

Attending my first Travel Blogging Conference was definitely the highlight of this month though.  It was incredible to meet and travel with some awesome fellow bloggers!  I learned quite a bit, and left the country feeling inspired to achieve much more when it comes to this site.

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Photographing Paris

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Paris is a city I have visited on numerous occasions during my time working as a European travel guide, but I was excited to get back for a repeat visit to take photos of absolutely everything.

Paris is one of the most visited cities in the world, and there’s a reason for that.  It really is a gorgeous place, and I had a solid 3-day stay running around the city.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have the best weather when I was there, but I still managed to get some cool shots.

I stayed at an amazing hostel called Les Piaules, and enjoyed a nightly glass of wine on the rooftop terrace overlooking the city.

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Balaton Sound

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If you haven’t already, make sure you check out my article on why I think Balaton Sound is the best music festival I’ve ever attended.

I only went because I knew I needed to get out to Eastern Europe, and found a flight to Budapest for 40 euro the day the festival began.  So I applied for the press accreditation (after the deadline has passed), and received the amazing news that my application had been approved.  This last-minute trip was slowly coming together.

The issue then was that I had no friends to go party with, and no where to stay – but thanks to the power of Facebook, I got lucky and found an open spot with some truly incredible people.  They welcomed me into their little rave family with open arms, and we had such a solid time partying it up at the beautiful Lake Balaton.

Shoutout to Baywatch Crew!

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Exploring Budapest + Belgrade

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After an intense week of partying at Balaton Sound, I was looking forward to a bit of relaxation — but there is little down-time in the life of a travel blogger.  I spent the week re-discovering my love for Budapest, and then taking a night-bus down to Serbia.

Budapest – It definitely is one of my favorite cities in the world.  There’s so much to explore, delicious food (and beer), and it’s very cheap.

Belgrade

 I wasn’t too happy about my time spent in Belgrade.  I had awful weather the entire time I was there (mid-July), and the city just felt a little bleehhhh.  I did find some delicious food, and learned a bit about the city – but I do think I need to head back to the city again.  I had heard so many great things about this city, and I’m not quite sure what I missed.

Apparently Belgrade has some of the best nightlife in the Balkans, but I was still detoxing from the epic bender that was Balaton Sound.

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Three Week Balkan Road Trip

I honestly don’t even know where to begin…

The Balkans has been a region I’ve been dying to travel through for years now, and this road trip completely exceeded all my expectations.

I joined forces with two other travel bloggers, the devilishly handsome Dan Flying Solo and the ridiciously fun Lili’s Travel Plans, and we hit the road traveling through Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, and Greece.

Randomly enough, I had actually never even met them before this trip.  I think we all took a gamble to embark on this three-week road trip with strangers met through the internet, but it ended up working out perfectly, and I couldn’t have asked for better company.

The entire trip was jam-packed with beautiful sights, friendly people, and scenic drives.  I fell in love with the Balkans, and can’t wait to explore more of the area in the future.  🙂


BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA

Beautiful bridges, winding roads, and stunning landscape were three of the highlights of this amazing country.  Road tripping through Sarajevo, Konjic, various lakes and viewpoints, and Mostar.  This country was constantly surprising me.

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MONTENEGRO

This was definitely the country I was looking forward to the most.

Before visiting Montenegro, I had only really heard about the Bay of Kotor though, so everything else we saw was an added bonus.

Durmitor National Park was hands down my favorite aspect of traveling through Montenegro.

We got our car sorted all thanks to AutoEurope  and was left speechless while we drove through and marveled at the natural mountainous beauty.

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ALBANIA

I’ll be honest – the main reason I was looking forward to traveling through Albania was because I had heard it is one of the cheapest countries in Europe.

Albania completely blew me away.

We spent around 9-10 days going through Albania.  The highlights were Lake Komani, Berat, and driving along the entire coast of the Albanian Riviera.

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CORFU, GREECE

We all made our way down to Corfu because the flights were so much cheaper leaving from Greece.  I wasn’t even planning on exploring the island, because I had been to Corfu a couple times before…but WOW.

Corfu is absolutely gorgeous.  It’s a pretty massive island, and me and Lili spent two full days driving around the island checking out the best beaches and view points.

Oh…and the food.  I could easily live off of Greek food for the rest of my life.

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Flying Back Home

Over 2 Years and 2 Months.

Total:  805 Days…

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That’s me overlooking my hometown of Yorba Linda

The time had finally come to make my way back to Southern-California (where I’m currently writing the end of this blog post).  I’ll admit that it felt a bit strange at first, but now I’m thoroughly enjoying my time catching up with friends and family, eating In-N-Out, and saving up money for whatever adventures come next.

I’ve got some really exciting options for the next year or two, so I guess I’m just currently waiting to see how a few opportunities work out.


So to wrap up this massive 5000+ word blog post, I just want to give a massive shoutout to everyone I had the pleasure of spending time with these past couple years abroad.  You’ve all had an impact on my life in one way or another, and I’ll never forget all the incredible adventures we’ve shared.

Traveling is truly about the people you meet while on the road, and I’ve been fortunate to forge friendships with some fantastic people from all over the world.

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Love you guys!


THANKS FOR READING!


Follow my adventures Around The World on FacebookInstagram, Twitter 

& Add Me On Snapchat: — JonesATW

35 Photos That Will Inspire You To Visit Sri Lanka

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During the first week of June, 60+ bloggers, photographers, and travel influencers ascended upon Sri Lanka for the second Cinnamon Travel Bloggers Conference & Awards.  #TBCAsia

Every hosted attendee had a choice of four different pre-conference tours of Sri Lanka to choose from:  North, South, East, or West.

I was on the “Discover South” tour, but I was definitely stalking my fellow bloggers on their different trips to see what type of incredible sights they were exploring.

Everyone had such stunning pictures to share from their various trips, so I wanted to put a post together showcasing a few my favorites.

Check out these 35 Instagram posts from attendees of #TBCAsia, and start planning your own Sri Lankan adventure.


1)  Cotton Candy Sigiriya Sky

Kiersten from The Blonde Abroad completely knocked this one out of the park.  This sunset shot taken of Sigiriya Rock Fortess is completely breathtaking.  What a capture!  Congratulations to Kiersten for co-winning the title of Best Travel Blog at this year!


2)  Snorkel Time

Hannah & Adam from Getting Stamped, who won Best Travel Photography Blog this year, captured this excellent over-under shot that will definitely get you keen for your next snorkeling trip.  Pigeon Island, off the coast of Trincomalee, has some of the best biodiversity in the country!


3)  Bath Time in Yala National Park

Sebastian from Off The Path perfectly captured this elephant having a bit of fun during bath time.  I was actually in the same jeep during this safari, and this little guy was definitely a cutie.  One of the many elephants we saw during our time in Yala National Park.


4)  Oh hey, what’s up?

Marta from In A Faraway Land got this stellar shot which perfectly encapsulates a standard train ride experience in Sri Lanka.  Congrats to Marta for winning the Best Up-and-Coming travel blog this year!

Flirting Sri Lankan style. Train rides in here are so much fun #tbcasia #cinnamonhotels #iflysrilankan #cvisitsrilanka

A photo posted by Marta Kulesza (@infarawayland) on


5) Hanging Out

Nicola from Polkadot Passport shared this gorgeous view of Knuckles Mountain Range and made it known that she is certainly isn’t afraid of heights.

Feeling on top of the world today as we explored the stunning Knuckles Mountain Range ? —- #TBCasia #CinnamonHotels #CVisitSriLanka

A photo posted by Nicola Easterby ??✈️ (@polkadotpassport) on


6)  Accidentally Awesome

Kristin from Be My Travel Muse unknowingly poses as Backpacker Steve grabs some insane drone footage of this old stoupa in the middle of jungle in Kumani National Park.  What an incredible view!


7)  Bird’s Eye View

Backpacker Steve absolutely nails it again with drone footage of this gorgeous Arugam Bay sunset.  Huge props to Steve for his quality work, as well as an amazing speaking presentation on videography at TBC Asia.

Surf's up and sun's down! #tbcasia #sunset

A photo posted by Steve Hänisch (@backpackersteve) on


8)  Lily Pad Perfection

Liz from Young Adventuress proves that Sri Lanka is a place where dreams are made of.  I definitely wouldn’t mind going to sleep if it brought me here.

Paddling through the lily pads – what dreams are made of! @cinnamonhotels #tbcasia

A photo posted by Liz Carlson (@youngadventuress) on


9)  Elephants Need Alone Time Too

Dave & Deb from The Planet D shared this amazing capture they took during the previous trip to Sri Lanka in preparation for heading back as speakers for TBC Asia.  What a shot!  Congrats to Dave & Deb for co-winning the title of Best Travel Blog this year!


10)  Galle Explorations

Hey, that’s my photo!  Taken from our amazing afternoon checking out the highlights of the old Dutch fort city of Galle.  Easily one of the highlights of my time on the Discover South tour.


11)  Arugam Sunsets

Raphael from Journey Wonders shows us how beautiful the sunsets can be around Arugam Bay.  A wonderful shot from the “man of wonders”.


12)  Sunset Serenity

Janet from Journalist On The Run captured this marvelous sunset picture from the top of Pidurangala Rock.  Definitely worth the 25 minute hike, wouldn’t you agree…?


13)  East Coast Beach Paradise

Paul & Karen from Global Help Swap share with us this superb view of Sri Lankan’s east coast beaches.  Not a bad place for a swim, yeah?


14)  Getting Air

Jenna & Jordan from Stoked For Saturday got this amazing jumping photo at the top of Sigiriya rock.   Congratulations to both of them for winning the Best Travel Video Blog this year!


15)  Wildlife Safari Ready

Turkish blogging power couple Murat & Tugce from Gezimanya show off how much fun they’re having on their Yala National park safari.  This is definitely a must for anyone making their way to Sri Lanka!


16)  Lake Life

Annika from Midnight Blue Elephant shows us the beautiful and peaceful lagoon in Habanara.  Not a bad place to relax for a bit.


17)  Breakfast

Food blogging pro Emma from My Darling Lemon Thyme gives us just a taste of how amazing the Sri Lankan food is at the Cinnamon Hotel breakfast buffets.  Every meal on the tour was absolutely delicious.  I’m sure I’m not the only one who will be leaving Sri Lanka a bit heavier.

String hoppers + all the sambols for breakfast ?? #tbcasia #srilanka #cinnamonhotels

A photo posted by Emma Galloway (@mydarlinglemonthyme) on


18) Train Ride Scenery

Eric from TravelBabbo captured this epic shot of the Kandy – Nuwara Eliya train ride scenery.  Make sure you grab a window seat for this one.


19)  Vacation Ready

Regitse from The Copenhagen Traveler shares with us this perfect view proving Sri Lankan is an ideal vacation destination.  Grab a book and a cocktail, and forget about your worries.

Paradise island? | www.thecopenhagentraveler.com |

A photo posted by Regitse Cecillie Rosenvinge✈ (@the_copenhagen_traveler) on

20)  Surfer’s Paradise

Mridula from Travel Tales From India reminds us that Sri Lanka is home to some of the world’s top surfing destinations.  She captured this guy in the beautiful surfing hub of Arugam Bay.

The ocean is his playground! #srilanka

A photo posted by Mridula Dwivedi (@mridulablog) on


21)  It’s Bath Time Again

Laurence from Finding the Universe shares this captivating Sri Lankan landscape complete with an elephant bathing.

Elephant taking a bath, as seen on our drive up into Sri Lanka’s hill count.

A photo posted by Laurence: Finding the Universe (@lozula) on


22)  Green Explosion

Gregory Snell who was representing Travel Dudes snagged this gorgeous view showing the lush and green landscape in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka Views. #asia #island #travel #travelawesome ??☺️???

A photo posted by Greg Snell (@gregorsnell) on


23)  Buddhism Introduction

XpatMatt shows us this top-notch photo of monks at the Thuparamaya stupa, where Buddhism was first introduced in Sri Lanka.  Shoutout to Matt for doing an excellent job in his role as President of the PTBA and helping oversee the success of this event.

We visited the stupa where Buddhism was first introduced to #SriLanka today. #TBCAsia #CinnamonHotels

A photo posted by Matt Gibson (@xpatmatt) on


24)  Rest & Relaxation

Jayney from Girl Tweets World shared this terrific shot of her floating in the pool after a long wildlife safari.  We all need a little downtime!  Congrats to Jayney for winning the Best Luxury Travel Blog this year!


25)  Beach Bliss

Matt from The Expeditioner shares this quality view overlooking Unawatuna Beach.  Definitely a place I wouldn’t mind spending a few days.

Beach views from Unawatuna Beach, Sri Lanka.

A photo posted by Matt Stabile (@theexpeditioner) on


26)  Citadel of Sigiriya

Sankara from Be On The Road shows us a different side of Sigiriya Rock Fortress.


27) Traditional Dancing

Kylia from Stylistic shares with us this photo of the traditional dancing performed at the TBC Asia pre-conference dinner.


28)  Good Looking Group of People

Shiran grabbed this shot of all the attendees dressed up in the local swag we were given thanks to Uptown Kandy.

Sri Lanka's night… ?????? #cinnammonhotel #visitsrilanka #TBCasia #colombo #blogers

A photo posted by shiranphoto (@shiranphoto) on


29) But First…

Josh from Go Travel Your Way takes a stellar selfie showing off the beautiful landscape of Kumana National Park.


30)  Sigiriya Sunrise

Famous Youtuber Krzysztof Gonciarz proves that Sigirya is definitely one of the main reasons to visit Sri Lanka.  Truly a sight you must see for yourself.

Epic sunrise in Sri Lanka #kgonciarz #cvisitsrilanka #cinnamonhotels #tbcasia

A photo posted by Krzysztof Gonciarz (@kgonciarz) on


31)  Don’t Forget the Dolphins

Janicke from Norskereiseblogger shows off her perfect timing skills by capturing this shot during a dolphin safari off the coast of Trincomalee.

Dolphin #safari outside the coast of #trinkomalee #srilanka #tbcasia #cinnamonhotels #cvisitsrilanka #flysrilankan

A photo posted by Janicke Hansen (@norskereiseblogger) on


32)  #NoFilter…?

JK.  Although it would be pretty cool if life did look this shot that TBC Asia speaker Halona Padiachy posted!

Serenity in Hikkadua #tbcasia #cinnamonhotels

A photo posted by Halona P (@piripirisauce) on


33) Perfectly Blue

Lifestyle blogger Mélo Limparfaite captured the amazing colors of the ocean you’ll find in Sri Lanka.  Who could resist a swim?

So many shades of blue #SriLanka #pigeonisland #beach #TBCasia #blusky #travelbloggers #melolimparfaite #landscape

A photo posted by Mélo Limparfaite (@melolimparfaite) on

34 ) Train Station Vibes

Anneka representing Travelettes shared this stunning shot from Colombo train station.  You haven’t truly traveled around Sri Lanka unless you’ve taken one scenic train ride.


35 ) THANKS TBC ASIA ! ! !

One epic week with some amazingly talented bloggers, photographers, and travel influencers.


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THANKS FOR READING

Follow my adventures Around The World on FacebookInstagram, Twitter 

& Add Me On Snapchat: — JonesATW

30 Music Festivals in Australia To Experience Before You Die

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Looking for the best music festivals in Australia?  Look no further.  I’ve compiled the ultimate bucket list of music festivals in the land down under.  Something I’ve realized about living in this amazing country, is that there is always something fun to do, and that includes music festivals.  Every weekend there’s always some event, party, or festival to check out.

Whether you’re living in Australia, backpacking around, studying abroad, or on a working holiday visa — definitely check out this list of the best parties to attend.  From the massive raves, boutique camping festivals, and epic bush doofs — Australia has all the festival junkies covered.

HOW MANY WILL YOU BE GOING TO…?



1.  Splendour In The Grass

  • When:  End of July
  • Where:  North Byron Parklands
  • Website:  http://www.splendourinthegrass.com/
  • Why:  Easily one of the biggest festivals in Australia, Splendour In The Grass is in a beautiful location, and always brings a top-notch line-up covering a wide variety of genres.  This will be a festival experience you’ll never forget.

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2.  Stereosonic

  • When:  End Of November / Beginning of December
  • Where:  Sydney, Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne
  • Website:  http://stereosonic.com.au/
  • Why:  Australia’s largest electronic music festival definitely needs to be on your festival bucket list.  Every year they bring the biggest acts in the industry, build impressive stages, and create an incredible atmosphere.

*2016 Edition cancelled but will return in 2017*

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3.  Field Day

  • When:  January 1 (New Years Day)
  • Where:  Sydney
  • Website:  https://www.facebook.com/FieldDay
  • Why:  Set on the first day of the year at its beautiful iconic Sydney venue, The Domain. Field Day is the smart way to celebrate New Years and is also our city’s most popular boutique music festival. It’s known for a super-friendly atmosphere and quality line-ups mixing hip-hop, house, indie and electronic artists from around the world.

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4.  Harbourlife

  • When: Beginning of November
  • Where:  Sydney
  • Website:  http://www.fuzzy.com.au/
  • Why:  The one party a year with the view people travel 20,000km to see, Harbourlife brings quality house music to the best-located dance floor in the country.  Tickets can be hard to come by, so act fast and secure them before they sell out!

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5.  Lost Paradise

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6. Strawberry Fields

  • When:  Mid / End of November
  • Where:  Australian Bush, 2-3 hours outside Melbourne
  • Website:  http://www.strawberry-fields.com.au/
  • Why:  Strawberry Fields is an annual celebration of art, sound and creative expression held for three days each November, a few hours outside of Melbourne, Australia. Each year we bring you a diverse selection of both renowned and breakthrough electronic music from both Australia and overseas.  Indulge yourself in a sensory feast, including soul shaking sound, world class decor, dozens of eclectic market stalls, artistic installations, live performance art, workshops, forum discussion and more.

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7.  Subsonic

  • When:  Beginning of December
  • Where:  Riverwood Downs, New South Wales
  • Websitehttp://www.subsonicmusic.com.au/
  • Why:  Subsonic is a solid weekend of exceptional electronic, roots and soulful music in the gorgeous surrounds of Riverwood Downs Mountain Valley Resort – a therapeutic three hour drive from Sydney.  Nothing but the best minimal, house, and techno.  From what I’ve heard, this is a party that should not be missed!

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8.  Listen Out

  • When:  End of September / Beginning of October
  • Where:  Sydney, Perth, Melbourne, Sydney
  • Website:  https://www.facebook.com/ListenOut/
  • Why:  Listen Out is the antidote to many of the things you don’t like about bigger music festivals. It is a carefully handcrafted party, with a killer lineup of the dance music that matters and a philosophy of best, not biggest. Say goodbye to endless timetable clashes, long hikes to the 12th stage and spending your day with several thousand people you can’t relate to.

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9.  Wide Open Space

  • When:  Beginning of May
  • Where:  Central Australia (1 Hour from Alice Springs)
  • Website:  http://wideopenspace.net.au/
  • Why:  3 days of Australia’s best underground beats held in a resort at the foot of the MacDonnell ranges, about an hour’s drive out of Alice Springs.  This sounds like the ultimate outback festival!

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10.  Groovin The Moo

  • When:  End of April / Beginning of May
  • Where:  Oakbank, Bunbury, Benoigo, Canberra, Maitland, and Townsville
  • Website:  http://www.gtm.net.au/
  • Why:  On the cusp of winter, Groovin the Moo has become a place for those seeking warmth, a space for like-minded people to gather and open their ears to both new and familiar sounds. It’s a tradition for local host communities to participate in and celebrate.  This upcoming 2016 edition has one of the best line-ups that I’ve seen so far during my time in Australia.  With this festival hitting up each state in the country, you’d be a fool to miss out!



11.  The Town

  • When:  Easter Weekend
  • Where:  Strathbogie Ranges (2 Hours Outside Melbourne)
  • Website:  http://culturejam.com.au/
  • Why:  ‘A place of like-minded folk who’ve declared the real world a joke. We’re heading back to bikes and letters and the simplest of pleasures. From sustainable partying and funky-ass tunes, we invite you to get wild under the Easter full moon’.  Welcome to our interactive Village, part parodying every-day life with absurd theatrics and awesome set design, and part exploring what makes a healthy sustainable Town, all to a soundtrack of incredibly fun music. We aim to deliver a wacky new experiment never before seen on our Festival circuit

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12.  Happy Daze Festival

  • When:  End of May
  • Where:  Central Queensland
  • Website:  http://happydazefestival.com/  
  • Why:  A 3-Day Open Air Music & Arts Festival.  The Happy Daze Festival brings fresh eclectic flavours to Central Queensland. Gaining momentum from last years event, this realm of stimulating sights, sounds and activities is sure to tantalise the senses.

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13 ) Return to Rio

  • When:  Mid November & Mid March (Summer & Opening & ClosingParties)
  • Where:  Wiseman’s Ferry
  • Website:  https://www.facebook.com/ReturnToRio/
  • Why:  A 3 day- weekend filled with music and fun, dancing and drinking, and laughter and sun.  If you haven’t heard of Return to Rio before, you’re definitely missing out.  It’s an intimate weekend away that feels like just a gathering with friends to listen to top-notch underground house music.  This was honestly one of my favorite weekends in Australia!

Read my Return to Rio review & Check out my Return to Rio Photo Album


14)  Let Go Fest

  • When: February 4, 2017
  • Where:  Mornington, Victoria
  • Website:   https://www.facebook.com/letgofest/
  • Why:  One beautiful summer day of quality dance music, food, and entertainment.  While it may be one of the newer festival on the list, it will definitely be a solid event.  The line-up this year is looking amazing with Australian favorites RUFUS, Set Mo, and Hayden James

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15)  Rabbits Eat Lettuce

  • When:  Easter Long Weekend
  • Where:  Byron Bay (Doofville)
  • Website:   http://www.rabbitseatlettuce.com.au/
  • Why:  4 days of camping, BYO, 24 hour sound, yoga, workshops, awesome vibes & good music.  “Open your Heart.  Develop your Mind.  Move your Body”.  Everyone who has been has told me it is an absolute must!



16 ) Big Pineapple Music Festival

  • When:  End of May
  • Where:  Sunshine Coast, Queensland (woombeye
  • Website:   http://www.bigpineapplemusicfestival.com/
  • Why:  Whether it’s the magical energy that radiates from the pristine, treelined surroundings, or the laid back atmosphere that brings out the best in the performers and crowds alike, there’s a special vibe to the one- day camping event that continues to attract punters from all corners of the country.

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17)  Rainbow Serpent

  • When:  End of January (27-30, 2017)
  • Where:  Lexton, Victoria
  • Website:   https://www.rainbowserpent.net/
  • Why:  This is arguably one of Australia’s most popular festivals, and is guaranteed to be an experience of a lifetime.  For music festival junkies, this is a no-brainer.  “It’s a fresh discovery of opportunity and escapism, a chance to connect with like minded individuals and to celebrate nature, community and harmony.  No longer just an electronic music festival these days you can expect to experience a unique combination of music, art, performance, spiritual discussion, relaxation and healing.”


18 )  Earthcore

  • When: Nov 24 – 28, Nov 2016
  • Where: Pyalong, Victoria
  • Website:  http://www.earthcore.com.au/
  • Why:  “What is this Parallel Universe that beckons beyond the darkness?” Set on 1500 acres of pristine land one hour drive from Melbourne feat 5 epic stages across 5 days, Boutique Camping, Worlds Beyond Speakers Forum, Fractured Reality Art Zone, Yellow Sunshine Chill Out, Muffplex Cinema, Elemental Planet Lifestyle City, District 13 Theme Camp Zone, DIY Social Calendar, Kinky Karnival Freak Show, Mind Bending Art Installations, your closest mates and you!

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19)  Falls Festival

  • When: End of December – Beginning Of January.  New YEARS EVE
  • Where:  3 Locations.  Lorne, Marion Bay, Byron Bay
  • Website:  https://www.fallsfestival.com/
  • Why:  The Falls Music & Arts Festival is one of the finest, longest running, boutique music events in Australia.  The festival is based on European style events, featuring a diverse mix of over 70 renowned bands, DJs and comedians from throughout Australia with over 20 international acts.  Definitely a solid choice for bringing in the new year.

One the Australia’s Best New Years Eve Music Festivals



20)  Dragon Dreaming

  • When:  Mid October , 2016
  • Where:  Wee Jasper, NSW
  • Website:   http://www.dragondreaming.net/
  • Why:  Enter the mind and imagination of the Dragon for four days in October in witness of a most beautiful festival!  Dragon Dreaming takes pride in nurturing local artists, live bands and DJs while providing an environment suitable for families and children of all ages. Dragon Dreaming Festival is approaching its seventh year and intend leaving all attendees feeling satisfied, fresh and inspired.  Dragon Dreaming Festival admits to getting down to a wide variety of musical tastes and we will present a carefully selected line up ranging from live bands, gypsy, dub, tribal rhythms, psytrance, breaks, dubstep, glitch, progressive, ambient, house, reggae and the list journeys on… Find your groove over the weekend on three different amplified stages. So put on your stomping shoes or your belly dancing jewels and have a boogie with your friends and family.

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21)  Burning Seed (Burning Man Australia)

  • When:    September 28th – October 3rd, 2016
  • Where:  Matong State Forest, NSW
  • Website:  http://www.burningseed.com/
  • Why:  Red Earth City will rise once more in 2016 in our beautiful Matong State Forest location.  This regional burn in Australia is something that you defintiely should not miss if you’re in Australia.  For those burners who can’t make the trek to Black Rock City in Nevada — this is the festival you’ll need to attend!

**Unfortunately had to cancel it’s 2016 edition due to weather, but will be back in 2017

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21)  Maitreya Festival

  • When:  Mid-March (March 11-14, 2016)
  • Where:  Lake Wooroonook, Charlton, Victoria
  • Website:  http://www.maitreyafestival.com/
  • Why:  Maitreya Festival emerged from the cosmic counter culture organic superfood soup bowl ten years ago!  The ultimate intention was to provide a global platform for investigation into the self, the setting within which we live, and the places we might be able to go together as a species of intrepid travellers and explorers! Any revolutionary platform without art and dancing is definitely not one worth having, so we wanted to present you with an immersive visual and aural experience as well!


22) The Plot

  • When:  End of November / Early December
  • Where:  Parramatta Park, Sydney
  • Website:  http://theplot.co
  • Why:   With an impressively large and eclectic line-up, The Plot is a one-day festival that shouldn’t be missed.  Located in the beautiful Parramatta Park, spread over three stages, this festival will keep your feet moving the entire time.

 


23)  Laneway Festival

  • When:  Check Facebook dates for upcoming events (there’s tons)
  • Where:  Sydney College of the Arts, Balmain Road
  • Websitehttp://sydney.lanewayfestival.com/
  • Why:  This festival is touring all over Australia, New Zealand, and even stretches as far as Singapore.  With an amazing, large, and diverse line-up — Laneway Festival is going to be an experience worth checking out.  If you don’t go for anyone

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24 ) Electric Gardens Festival

  • When:  End of January
  • Where:  Centennial Park, Sydney — Perth Ampitheatrre
  • Website:  https://www.facebook.com/electricgardensfestival
  • Why:  This one day-festival in both Sydney and Perth is an absolute must.  Having experienced the Sydney event for myself, I can confidently say that this will be a party you will never forget.  They bring amazing talent, it’s very well organized, and the production value was top-notch!  Don’t miss this one!  Read all about my Electric Gardens Review !!





25 )  Woodford Folk Festival

  • When:  Dec 27 – Jan 1 (New Years Eve Festival)
  • Where:  Woodfordia, Queensland
  • Website:  https://woodfordfolkfestival.com/
  • Why:  Woodford Folk Festival is one of Australia’s largest and most iconic events (and one of the largest ‘folk’ festivals in the world). It is also the largest gathering of artists and musicians in Australia. The programme encompasses the depth and diversity of Australia’s cultural, artistic and social expression with music, dance, cabaret, circus, comedy, workshops, debate, street theatre, films, forums, visual arts, an entire children’s festival and many special presentations including a spectacular fire event on New Year’s Day.


26 )  Mushroom Valley

  • When:   October 7-9, 2016
  • Where:  Near the Whitsundays
  • Website:  https://www.facebook.com/Mushroom-Valley-137048089786715/
  • Why:  3 Day Music, Art, & Lifestyle festival near one of the most beautiful destinations in Australia.  Definitely could easily fit into your travels, or would be a great weekend getaway.

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27 )  Byron Bay BluesFest

  • When: March 24th- 28th, 2016
  • Where:  Byron Bay, NSW
  • Website:  http://www.bluesfest.com.au/
  • Why:  Bluesfest presents over 200 performances with up to 7 stages over 5, 12 hour days, as well as camping for up to 6,000 people, 5 licensed bars, over 100 food and market stalls, undercover food courts, beer gardens, and children’s entertainment.


28 )  Mona Foma Festival

  • When:  Mid January
  • Where:  Hobart, Tasmania
  • Website:  https://www.facebook.com/monafoma
  • Why:  Tons of different events spread over three 3 days.  Definitely worth checking out if you find yourself down in Tassie.

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29 )  Golden Plains Festival

  • When:  March 12-14, 2016
  • Where:  Meredith, Victoria (110 Minutes from Melbourne CBD)
  • Website:  http://2016.goldenplains.com.au/
  • Why: Golden Plains is a Premium Music Festival on an Epic Long Weekend in the Greatest of Outdoors. It is staged in Autumn so the weather is warm and stable. Afternoon goes on all day, the sun like honey on the trees, then a giant spike of excitement goes kabloooey at nightfall.  Join for an electric line-up, amazing food, and solid festival atmosphere.


30 )  Southbound Festival

  • When:  Dec 27 – 29, 2016
  • Where:  Busselton, Western Australia
  • Website:  http://southboundfestival.com.au/
  • Why:  Work off the Christmas Calories at an epic 3 day music and camping festival.  If you’re living around South Australia, than this is an event that shouldn’t be missed.       


Australia is an absolutely beautiful country, and it obviously has it’s fair share of quality music festivals.  Definitely looking forward to crossing a lot of these off my festival bucket list within the upcoming years.  Have you been to any of these?  What was your experience like?  Any major music festival missing from this list?  Let me know!  

Check out my other blog posts on music festivals.


Photo Sources:  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 17, 25


Thanks for Reading!  Share with your festival squad!

2015: A Year In Review

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As I sit here in my room in Sydney writing this post, I honestly can’t believe how quick 2015 has flown by.  This has been the craziest and most epic year of my life for sure.  While my travels have slowed down quite a bit in the past few months since moving to Sydney, looking back on 2015 has brought back nothing but incredible travel memories.

This is the perfect time to reflect on everything I’ve done the past year, and I’m so thankful I’ve been able to follow my dreams of living, traveling, and working abroad.  It’s hard to express how influential the past 365 days have been on my life, but I know I’ve learned a lot about myself, about the world, and what I want out of my future.

Take a look at what I got up to this year, and leave a comment down below with any questions or comments.

January

This month would be best described as split between extreme polar opposites; partying and detoxing.  I spent my first week in January on Koh Phangan, Thailand.  I attended the New Years Eve party, and ended up extending my stay for the Full Moon Party on January 5t (my 4th FMP in total).  This week was full of neon colors, playing with fire, electronic music, Hong Thong Thai Whiskey, and 7-11 Ham & Cheese Toasties.  I even skipped over to Koh Samui for a couple nights of continued debauchery, before being forced to leave Thailand to avoid visa problems.

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After a wild a crazy start to 2015, I decided it was time I needed an extended detox and relax.  I had been doing a lot of traveling, and moving around pretty quickly.  I was in desperate need to stay in one place for longer than a week, and wanted to focus on my health a bit.  Thanks to my friend Danielle in Kuala Lumpur, I got an extremely comfortable room in the Regalia Condominium.  This was absolutely perfect for me.

I had just started my last term of Graduate School classes, and really needed a comfortable place to focus on my studies.  I stayed here for 20 days in a row, and this was definitely when I fell in love with the Regalia Condominium in Kuala Lumpur.  I was eating extremely well, excercising, and was working diligently on my studies.  It was just what I needed to begin the upcoming year…

Kuala Lumpur study break...

Kuala Lumpur study break…

February

After a week or two in Kuala Lumpur of relaxing and studying, it was time for me to time to hop on a plane to continue my backpacking travels.

Thanks to a $42 dollar ticket on AirAsia, I hopped on a plane over to HONG KONG.

I was honestly blown away by Hong Kong…

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For some reason, this city was never high up on my list of places to visit.  I have no idea why.  I only went because I found a really cheap flight during one of the best time of the year to visit.

“What better place to spend Chinese New year than in Hong Kong…?”

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The city was absolutely stunning, the food was delicious, and the nightlife was bumping.  The best part about Hong Kong is just simply walking around the city at night.  I’ve never seen a city like it.  If there’s one word to describe Hong Kong — it’s vibrant.  I had one week exploring different parts of the city, but I easily could have spent a full month there.

After my week in Hong Kong, I hopped over to Macau for a one-day exploration before my flight to the Philippines.  I spent the last few days of February primarily in coffee shops in Manila, writing my final papers for my Master’s Degree.

March

Quite possibly the best month of my entire life.

I spent almost the entire month of March backpacking through the Philippines.  From island hopping in Palawan, finishing my Master’s degree, and exploring Cebu & Boracay — March 2015 was one for the record books.

I fell in love with the Philippines, and can’t wait to explore more of the 7,107 islands there!

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April

After finishing my time in The Philippines, I flew back to Kuala Lumpur for a short 4-day visit, and then headed back to the airport to fly up to Vientiene, Laos to continue my backpacking adventures.  At this point, I had been traveling in Asia for almost a full year in total, and still had not visited Laos.  I have no idea what took me so long, but my 16 days in Laos were incredible.

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  • Spending 5 days on Don Det relaxing, partying, and meeting fellow backpackers.
  • Motorcycle adventures around Pakse & the Bolaven Plateau was gorgeous.  We saw 7 Waterfalls in one day.
  • One full week of drinking and tubing in the Laos party capital of Vang Vieng.
  • And a couple relaxing nights in Luang Prabang seeing the sights, bowling, and shopping.

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Tubing in Vang Vieng

2nd Half of April — Chiang Mai & Pai

One Word:  SONGKRAN.

In April 2014, I was at the end of my first backpacking trip in South-East Asia.  I wanted to stay in Thailand for the Thai New Year celebrations, which is basically a week long country-wide waterfight, but I had to fly back to California for a wedding.

After seeing pictures and videos from friends who were still traveling, I vowed to myself that I would be there to experience Songkran for myself!  Too be honest, this was the only reason I stayed in Asia so long.  I actually had plans to go to Korea, Japan, and then book a one-way ticket to Central America to continue my backpacking travels.

I’m definitely happy I decided to extend my time in Asia, because Songkran exceeded all my expections…

Definitely one of the best experiences of all my travels..

After an amazing Songkran experience, I took a 4-day motorcycle trip to Pai, Thailand.  I fell in love with this backpacker / hippie paradise.  Spent some time with some quality backpacker mates, ate incredible food, and had a couple good nights out partying.  I honestly would have lived in Pai for a month over Chiang Mai, but I know that for next time.  I do see myself moving back to Thailand again later on in life, but who knows when that will happen.

May

I moved out of my studio apartment in Chiang Mai, and boarded a flight back to Kuala Lumpur.  I had a week in Malaysia to hang out to relax, hang out with friends, and plan for the next couple weeks before boarding a plane back to BALI.

One of my good friends from California (Shoutout to Rashad), messaged me back in February and discussed meeting up with me in Asia.  I asked him what he wanted to do and see out here, and he replied “I wanna surf, I wanna party, and I wanna see some cool stuff”.  Well, out of all the places in South-East Asia, Bali was the perfect place to go.

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I had already visited “The Island Of The Gods” twice before, but was stoked to get back for a third time, and even more stoked to show my friend some of my favorite parts about traveling in Asia.  These two weeks were awesome, and we definitely lived it up.

  • Amazing sunsets, epic parties, and beautiful beaches down in Uluwatu.
  • Renting an AirBNB and keeping it semi-classy in Seminyak.
  • Moto rides and resort crashing in Ubud.
  • Spear-fishing on Gili Trawangan

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Cocktails in paradise...

June

Living in paradise.  I found myself a nice homestay on Gili Trawangan, a “job” working at Gili Backpackers (probably the best hostel in the world), and met a ton of amazing people.  This is easily my favorite island in South-East Asia, and I definitely see myself living there again someday.  This month was full of swimming with turtles on a regular basis, eating amazing food, and seeing the best sunsets during all my travels.  I’ll never forget my time on Gili Trawangan.

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July

On the 1st of July, I was on one of my favorite trips I’ve done in South-East Asia:  Sailing from Lombok – Flores through the Komodo National Park.  The whole trip was amazing with beautiful views both above and below ground, incredible group of backpackers, and good vibes throughout the entire trip.  I eventually made my way back to Gili Trawangan for another week before flying back to Kuala Lumpur.

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After exploring Bali, living in paradise, and an incredible 4-day sailing trip — my 60 day visa in Indonesia was about to expire, and I booked a flight back to Kuala Lumpur.

Another one of my friends from California (Shoutout to Gina) decided it was time for a trip to Asia.  I met up with her in Kuala Lumpur and had a couple crazy nights before we woke up one morning and decided to book a last minute flight to Langkawi.

I had been to Langkawi on two seperate occasions before, but I really love it there, so I had no problems heading back to show Gina around.  The island hopping tour is a blast, the nightlife is fun, and we had an epic week!.

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August

August was spent primarily traveling around new parts of Malaysia.  I had spent a lot of time in Kuala Lumpur, Penang, and Langkawi before — but it was time for me to explore more destinations.  This was actually when I realized how stunning Malaysian Islands truly are.  Pulau Kapas was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been, and I spent 10 days on the Perhentian Islands living it up with an amazing group of people.  I look at my time on the Perhentian Islands as a “farewell to my backpacker life”.

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September

I spent the first half of September in Kuala Lumpur.  All this time was basically just time for me to unwind, plan, and prepare for this upcoming move.

From being a care-free long-term backpacker, to a full-time working-holiday visa manin Sydney, Australia.  It was a massive change of pace for me, but I can’t even begin to express how glad I am that I decided to do this.

The first two weeks in Sydney were interesting.  I was getting to used being back in a Westernized society.  Luckily, I had a place to stay at my mates house, so it gave me the perfect opportunity.  During these first couple weeks, I was just trying to get settled in Sydney, and also have a couple really crazy party nights.

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Cheers to you Sydney

October & November

I’ve put together these two months because this was when I began working a full-time 40 hour work week.  After staying at my friend’s house in the suburbs, I finally found a place I felt comfortable to stay at for a full month.  These two months in Sydney  went by so incredibly fast.  I slowly began to get adjusted to a “normal life”.  As much as it sucks, working full time has been nice.  It’s given me a routine, and some decent money coming in.  I even worked 13 days in a row, and got paid $45 an hour for several shifts.  This is also when I realized something very important — I came to Australia with a purpose to make some money.  I worked extremely hard in October & November, and was able to pay off some credit card debt I had accrued during my travels.  It’s definitely been a “reality check” going from a care-free long-term traveler lifestyle, to a 9-5 weekend warrior, but I think it’s been really good for me.

October and November wasn’t just all work though.  I had some crazy nights out in city, and an epic time at both The Afterlife & Stereosonic.  Sydney is such an amazing city, and there’s always something to do.  Which can be hard when you are trying to save money.  It’s definitely the most expensive places I’ve ever lived, but I’m loving it.

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December

At the end of November, I saw a post on Facebook that Tourism Board of Indonesia was looking for travel bloggers for a press / media trip.  The start date was 4 days from when I saw the post, so I figured all the positions were already taken — but I figured there was no hurt in applying.  To my surprise, they accepted my application, and emailed me within a couple days with flight details.  I couldn’t believe it.  For the first time as a travel blogger — I received an all expenses paid trip!  All I had to do was take pictures and write about my experiences. 

This one week trip to Indonesia had me hopping around Bali, Lombok, and Komodo National Park with 9 other amazing travel bloggers.  Not only was it a ton of fun, but it provided me with a much needed escape from my crazy work life in Sydney.  This was definitely the highlight of the month.  I have to give a shout-out to those other bloggers on the trip!  You guys were so much fun to travel with, and I look forward to working with you all again someday!

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After returning from Indonesia — I moved into my first house in Sydney.  It’s been incredible to not share a room with anyone, have some privacy, and live in an actual house.  My roommates are all really chill, and I’m very content with my current living situation.  One step closer to becoming fully settled here in Australia.

My Top 5 Experiences in 2015

If you took the time to read this lengthy post, you’ll have a good understanding how epic this year was for me.  But if I had to choose my top five, this would be them:

1 )  Songkran Water Festival I can’t express this enough.  This was one of the most fun experiences I’ve had in my entire life.

2 )  Island Hopping Tours in Coron & El Nido, Palawan Arguably the most beautiful place in the entire world.  #ItsMoreFunInThePhilippines

3 )  Living on Gili TrawanganDefinitely my favorite place in South-East Asia.  The beaches, the snorkeling, the parties, the people, the food, and the sunsets.  Everyday was spectacular.

4 )  Sailing Through Komodo National Park I’ve had the pleasure of completing two different sailing trips through Komodo National Park, and both trips were definitely top highlights of 2015.

5 )  Moving to Sydney If you had talked to me during the months of July & August, you probably were sick of hearing me talk about how “I have no clue what I’m doing with my life”.  I was a long-term traveler without a plan, but was in desperate need to start making some money.  Fortunately, I received a sign from the travel Gods, and there were some tax law changes in Australia.  I always wanted to do a Working Holiday Visa, and this forced me to do it ASAP.  I’m so glad I did.  I can’t even begin to express how good moving to Sydney has been for me.  I’ve learned so much in the past 3 months here, and I think it’s been really great change of pace for me.  I’m loving life in Australia, and think I might be based here a bit longer than expected.

Travel Plans for 2016…?

At this point, I don’t really have too many plans for 2016.  My main goal right now to focus on work, save up some money, and see where life decides to take me.  I see some big changes coming up this next year, and I’m really excited to see what happens.  With that being said — I do have a couple travel ideas.

February 2016:  If you haven’t seen my recent blog post, I’m applying to be apart of this epic 2-week road trip through Southern India called Kerala Blog Express.  This would be the experience of a life-time, and I’m really hoping I get selected to participate.  There are hundreds of amazing applicants, so we’ll see what happens, but I’ve got my fingers crossed because it looks amazing!

March – June 2016:  Eventually I got to find some time to actually explore Australia!  I’ve barely left Sydney as I’ve just been focused on work, but I’m definitely keen for some adventures in Oz.

June / July 2016:  While I’m down here in Australia, I’d feel like an idiot if I didn’t make it over to New Zealand.  I’d love to see NZ during the winter, and hit the slopes while I’m over there!

July / August 2016:  Potentially a mini-Euro trip…?   Then I need to fly home to California.  I’m really hoping I’ll have enough money saved up to attend Burning Man 2016.

Conclusion

This has without a doubt been the most incredible and influential year of my life.  I see a lot of big changes happening in my future, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what 2016 has in store for me.

I want to say thank-you to everyone I’ve had the pleasure to meet along my travels this past year.  I’m a firm believer that the people you meet make the destination, and I’ve met so many incredible people during my backpacking adventures in 2015, as well as some incredible new friends here in Australia.  If you’re reading this, please keep in touch!  And if you ever come down to Sydney — first round of beer is on me!

Thanks for reading!  Happy New Year everyone!

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

20 Photos That Will Inspire You to Visit Komodo National Park

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Komodo National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage sight that includes three main islands:  Komodo, Rinca, and Padar, as well as numerous surrounding islands.  It’s home to the infamous Komodo dragon, but that’s just one of the many reasons tourists flock to this gorgeous destination.

You’ll be left speechless at the gorgeous landscape, rich marine biodiversity, and postcard perfect islands.

Sailing around Komodo National Park is definitely one of the highlights of visiting Indonesia, and should be a top priority for anyone planning a trip through South-East Asia.

If you haven’t been yet, these 20 pictures will definitely be inspiring your next holiday plans.

All of these photos were taken by me!


1)  All Aboard.

Waking up to these views every morning is pretty amazing…

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2)  Idyllic Islands

Anyone up for a swim and a snorkel?

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3) Snorkeling and Scuba-diving

T.G.F.G.P.  — Thank God For Go Pro’s.

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4) Komodo Dragons

The largest living lizard in the world is a sight you need to see for yourself.  But not too close.  Their saliva is deadly.


5)  Sailing in Indonesia…

Warm water, beautiful beaches, and stunning views.  Does it get any better…?

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6)  “Pink” Beach

A famous beach that has turned a pinkish color from crushed up coral.


7)  Live Aboard Views…

“I’m on a boat”

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8)  Paradise Found…

Give me a book and a beer — I’ll be here all day.

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9)  Boat Jumping

Cool points if you do a back flip.

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10)  Chilling Out

Music, Beers, and Good Company

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11)  Komodo National Park View Point

On the hunt for Komodo dragons…

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12)  Gili Laba View Point…

Quick little hike for this rewarding view. DSC_1059


13)  Blue Skies & Stunning Landscape

I wish I were a bird and could fly over these mountains…

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14)  Sunset Sailing

Life’s better at sea…

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15)  Pristine Snorkeling Locations

Do you even snorkel, bro?

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16)  Indonesian Sunsets

Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.

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17)  Komodo National Park Entrance

*Cue Jurassic Park theme song*

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18) How Bout Them Dragons…?

I shall call you Khaleesi.

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19)  Colorful Coral

 

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20)  You’ll Never Want to Leave

Take me back…

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These are just a few of my favorite photos I’ve taken during my travels through Komodo National Park.  It’s one of my favorite parts of the world, and a highlight of my travels in South-East Asia.

If you like these photos, please check out my Instagram for more of my travel photography!


So, who wants to meet me in Indonesia…?

Share with your friends!

If you’re ever planning a trip to Indonesia, feel free to Contact Me with any questions you have.  I’ve spent a good amount of time in Bali, The Gili Islands, Lombok, and (obviously) Komodo National Park.  I’d love to help out anyway I can.

MALAYSIA Travel Guide: Trip Highlights, Itineraries, & Tips

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Welcome to Malaysia! 

Malaysia is an amazing and diverse country that has something to offer everyone.  If you’re looking for amazing food, gorgeous islands, and beautiful landscapes — Malaysia is a destination you should highly consider for your next holiday.  I have traveled pretty extensively through Peninsular Malaysia, and it has grown to become one of my favorite countries in entire world!  I’ve compiled this Malaysia Travel Guide as a source for people planning trips to this amazing country.

This guide will go over trip highlights, how to get around Malaysia, Malaysia itineraries, and general travel advice!

Hope you enjoy reading my Malaysia Travel Guide and favorite photos from my travels!

Note:  This Malaysia Travel will focus entirely on Peninsular Malaysia.  I have never traveled to Sabah or Sarawak, and am not too well informed about those areas of the country. 

Trip Highlights

Kuala Lumpur

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You’ll most likely be starting your Malaysian holidays in the amazing capital city — Kuala Lumpur.  This is truly a special place with friendly people, beautiful sights, and delicious food (just like the rest of Malaysia).  During my travels in South-East Asia , I was lucky enough to call this city home for awhile.  The first time I visited Kuala Lumpur I actually didn’t enjoy the city too much, but after spending more time there I discovered how special the city really is.

For more information on Kuala Lumpur, check out the following blog posts I’ve written:

 

Penang

Penang is the cultural hotspot in Malaysia!  You’ll fall in love with it’s busy streets, beautiful artwork, and enchanting history.  Oh, and the food is absolutely amazing.  Most people come to Penang only planning a few day stay, but end up staying much longer than they expected.  You can spend a day on Batu Ferringi beach, hike through the National Park, and take the journey up to Penang Hill for spectacular views of the entire city.        

Best things to do in Penang:

  • Beach day and sunset on Batu Ferringi Beach
  • Spend some time hiking through the National Park
  • Take a visit to Penang Hill for spectacular views of the city
  • Stroll through Georgetown and check out all the artwork
  • Eat at Penang’s famous hawker stalls

 

Langkawi

Officially known as Langkawi the Jewel of Kedah, Langkawi is an archipelago of 104 islands in the Andaman Sea, around 30 km off the mainland coast of northwestern Malaysia.  It’s right at the border of Thailand, and is a popular place to visit for traveller’s going north/south between Malaysia and Thailand.  It is truly an amazing island with amazing things to do, cheap accommodations, tax-free booze, and beautiful landscape.

Check out some of my blog posts on Langkawi:

 

Cameron Highlands

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The Cameron Highlands is a stunning hill station in central peninsular Malaysia, and has become a popular destination for visitors in Malaysia. Roughly the size of Singapore, the Cameron Highlands covers a large stretch of land, and there’s tons to see, do, and explore.  You’ll fall in love with the beautiful green tea plantations, and will leave you speechless when you visit the highest peak in the Cameron Highlands

For more information on the Cameron Highlands, check out the guide below!

 

Taman Negara

Teman Negara National Park is the perfect place for travelers who love wild life viewing, jungle trekking, hiking, rock climbing, fishing, camping and many more. It is well established as one of the most popular ecotourism in Malaysia.  Popular activities include the canopy walk, jungle trekking, rapid shooting, cave exploration, and boat cruises.

Recommend days spent here:  1-2 days max

Check out the Teman Negara National Park website for more information

 

The Perhentian Islands

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Welcome to paradise.  The Perhentian Islands consist of both Perhentian Kecil & Perhentian Besar.  They are both absolutely stunning, and the minute you step foot on of the two islands you’ll never want to leave.   I’ve visited Perhentian Kecil on two different occasions now, and I definitely would not mind going back for a third.  The beaches are gorgeous, the atmosphere is relaxing, and the nightlife can get pretty crazy.

Perhentian Kecil is more for a younger crowd.  It’s much more lively at night and has an incredible fireshow.  Perhentian Besar has a lot more resorts, and is a bit more family oriented.

If you’re going to Malaysia — you’d be mistaken to skip the Perhentian Islands!

Check out my blog posts on this paradise island!

 

Pulau Kapas

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Pulau Kapas is an idyllic island escape for those looking for a bit more of a remote location.  You won’t find any big crazy resorts, fast wi-fi connection, or luxury restaurants.  What you will be rewarded with is amazingly beautiful water, suburb underwater life, and an extremely laidback atmosphere.  Pulau Kapas is truly a Malaysian gem, and I guarantee if you go for a couple days you won’t regret it!

For more information about traveling to Pulau Kapas:

 

Tioman Island

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If you’ve looking for some more island action, than definitely make your way over to Tioman Island.  It isn’t as gorgeous as the Perhentians or Kapas, but it has some of the best scuba-diving sites in the whole country.  The island is pretty massive, and is a 2-hour ferry ride from the mainland.  It is a DUTY-FREE island, which makes drinking on this island pretty cheap!  It’s a popular destination for weekend trips from Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, so book in advance if you plan on being there on a Saturday & Sunday.  If you do plan on going, I’d definitely recommend staying on ABC Beach.

When I was there, I happened to catch really bad weather, and had some transportation issues.  I still had a great trip.  Read about it below:

 

Melaka

Melaka is just a short bus ride away from Kuala Lumpur, and can be a great place to spend one night.  It’s small enough to walk around, explore, and try some delicious food.  There’s not a whole lot to see here, but it’s definitely worth the visit.

To plan your visit, check out this post titled:

 

 

Getting Around Malaysia

The Malaysian transportation is some of the best I’ve found in all of South-East Asia.  Prices are relatively low, there’s tons of options, and they are all relatively comfortable.

Flights / Airfare

Malaysia is actually a really easy country to book extremely cheap domestic flights.

If you know your exact dates, you can actually get great flight deals.  Malindo Air is really great and includes 1 20kh checked bag.  These are particularly useful for flights to/from Kuala Lumpur.

Perhentian Islands

Perhentian Islands

 

Busses

Traveling around Malaysia on the bus transport is actually really easy, budget friendly, and comfortable.  There are loads of different companies that offer a ton of different routes.  None of the journeys take that long, and the busses can actually be really nice.  For bus schedules, routes, and fares, check out the website below.  I’ve booked online tickets with them, and made the process extremely easy.  You can just show the email confirmation at the bus station, and receive your ticket.

Pulau Kapas

Pulau Kapas

 

Hitchhiking in Malaysia

Just like in any destination, you should be careful when hitching a ride alone.  With that being said, Hitchhiking in Malaysia can be done, and it’s actually not too difficult.  I met these Spanish girls on Pulau Kapas who found a ride all the way from Teman Negara – Kuala Terranganu.  It’s not that it saves a ton of money, but it’s a great way to meet some local people, and have a unique travel experience.  For more information on Hitchhiking in Malaysia check the website below:

Kuala Lumpur

Jalan Alor in Kuala Lumpur

 

Trains

I’ve actually never taken a train in Malaysia, but I have heard that the system works out.  I almost boarded a train from Penang – Kuala Lumpur, but ended up extending my stay in Penang, and finding a flight that was cheaper than the train!  I honestly think that dealing with trains on other routes would just get complicated, so I’d just personally recommend Flights and Busses over taking trains in Malaysia.

Sunset on Tioman Island

Sunset on Tioman Island

Renting A Car

I’ve never rented a car and explored Malaysia on my own (mainly because I’m a solo budget traveler), but I have had some friends rent a van and go on weekend trips from Kuala Lumpur.  It’s definitely not the best option for everyone,

Jeep Excursions in the Cameron Highlands

Jeep Excursions in the Cameron Highlands

 

Malaysia Trip Itineraries

If you look at each of these locations on a map, you can see that it actually fits pretty well

One Week Malaysia Itinerary

If you are only in Malaysia for a brief visit, than you want to enjoy your holiday.  My advice would be to enjoy 2-3 days in Kuala Lumpur, and fly to either Penang for 3-4 days.  You don’t want to rush around each destination, because you will want enough time to enjoy each place and do all the activities.

 

Two Week Malaysia Itinerary

Days 1-3 — Kuala Lumpur

Take a morning bus to Teman Negara

Days 4-5 — Teman Negara

Book the early bus ticket to the Cameron Highlands

Days 6-7 —  Exploring the Cameron Highlands

Book the early departure bus to Penang

Days 8-10 — Penang

Catch the two hour ferry to Langkawi

Days 11-13 — Langkawi

Catch a domestic flight from Langkawi to Kuala Lumpur

Day 14 // End of Trip — Kuala Lumpur for your outgoing flight..

Island Hopping Boats in Langkawi

 

Three Week Malaysia Itinerary

Days 1-3 — Kuala Lumpur

Take a morning bus to Teman Negara

Days 4-5 — Teman Negara

Book the early bus ticket to the Cameron Highlands

Days 6-7 —  Exploring the Cameron Highlands

Book transportation to Marang Jetty for access to Pulau Kapas (Close to Kuala Terranganu)

Days 8-10 — Pulau Kapas & Gem Island

Book early morning boat back to mainland, and get to main bus station.  Book transport to Perhentian Islands

Days 11-15 — The Perhentians Islands

Book Domestic Flight from Kuala Terrananu Airport – Penang.  Cheap fares available if booked in advanced. 

Days 16-17 – Penang

Catch the two hour ferry to Langkawi

Days 18-20 — Langkawi

Catch a domestic flight from Langkawi to Kuala Lumpur

Day 21 // End of Trip — Kuala Lumpur for your outgoing flight..

Water & Lights show at KLCC

Water & Lights show at KLCC

 

One Month in Malaysia Itinerary

If you have a full month in Malaysia, I honestly would just recommend to follow the 3-week itinerary, but travel slower.  This will also allow flexibility with the domestic flights, and also spending less time on travel.  I would also recommend staying in Kuala Lumpur for an extra couple days, and doing a one-day trip to Melaka.  If you want to see it all, you can switch up this itinerary to add Pulau Tioman, but I would honestly skip it.  I found it to be really touristy, difficult to get to, and there are much better islands and beaches in Malaysia.

If you have even more time in Malaysia, look out for cheap domestic flights over to Borneo.  You could scuba-dive off the coasts of the world famous Sipadan island, or hike the highest peak in Malaysia — Mt. Kinabalu!

 

 

General Malaysia Travel Advice

Eat as much as you possibly can!  The food in Malaysia is absolutely incredible.  When you get to Kuala Lumpur, check out a Nasi Kandar and try the various curries, Roti Canai, and Nasi Lemak!

Interact with the locals!  Malaysian people are extremely friendly, and generally speak really great English!  They are very open and welcome to tourism, and can be a great experience.

Understand you are in a Muslim country!  Be respectful with your clothing!

Get a local SIM card!  Malaysia has a wide variety of phone plans, and it will come in handy to have 3G / 4G internet when your traveling.  I’d recommend Tune Talk.  There are great prices and deals, and it’s good coverage.

Download my Free E-Book — 77 Amazing, Helpful, Money-Saving Tips for Backpacking South-East Asia.  This goes over a ton of valuable information for Malaysia!

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If you haven’t figured it out by reading this post, I have traveled pretty extensively throughout Malaysia.   I think it’s an amazing country, and am always thinking about going soon and exploring different parts.  I’m actually dying to get over to Borneo, but I’m sure that time will come eventually.

If you’re ever planning a trip to Malaysia, feel free to Contact Me with any questions!

Thanks for reading!

Share the Malaysian Love!

 

One Month

17 Things That’ll Happen When You Move From South-East Asia to Australia

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Going from South-East Asia to Australia is extremely common among long-term backpackers.  It’s close in proximity, you can find cheap flights with AirAsia, and the money-making opportunities down here are pretty great.  If you come to Australia with the goal in mind to make money, you can find yourself stacking up some cash pretty quickly (just be careful, it can be spent pretty fast as well).

During my year in South-East Asia, I met countless people who had plans on extending their travels in Australia.  After a couple months of exploring options, I finally applied for my visa, booked a flight, and moved to Sydney.

After any long-term backpacking trip, it can be weird to go home.  It can also be really weird continuing your travels in a foreign country.  It’s definitely a big change of pace from the laid-back lifestyle I had in South-East Asia, but it’s been absolutely incredible.  There are some positive and negative aspects of this big transition.

Check out my list of 17 things that happen when you move from South-East Asia to Australia.

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1) You’ll switch from buying bottled water to drinking the tap water.

When you’re backpacking South-East Asia, you always find yourself buying bottled water.  It’s not that big of a deal though, because bottles rarely cost more than 50 cents.  This becomes a habit.  You’ve gotten used to the fact that you can’t drink the tap water, and have already accepted that this a necessary daily purchase.  But when you get to Australia — you’ll quickly realize that this is no longer a luxury you can afford.  Large bottles of water here can cost you $5 at a quick-e mart.  Ridiculous right?  Just get a water bottle, and fill it up from a faucet

2) You’ll laugh when you see Thai massages for a promotional price of $45.

For the past several months, you’ve been getting pampered with $3-$10 massages.  When you move to Australia, you’ll quickly realize that you won’t be able to “treat yo self” to a daily massage anymore.  You’ll see the advertisements at Thai massage parlors, and burst with laughter at the thought.

3) You’ll stop asking for the Wi-Fi password

In South-East Asia, pretty much every café, restaurant, and bar has wi-fi these days.  It might be painfully slow, but at least you can do the basic social-networking stuff.  In Australia, free wi-fi is pretty much non-existent.  I was shocked when I went to a coffee-shop and asked them for the password, and they replied that they don’t even have wi-fi.  It’s just not a thing here.  Everyone has a phone plan with a data package, and none of the establishments here feel the need to offer free internet.

4) You’ll cry when you look at the price of food at restaurants, and drinks at bars.

So.  Many.  Tears.  Why is food so expensive in Australia?  I don’t want to pay $20 for a burger, and I certainly will not pay $7 more just to get fries and a drink.  On the bright side, at least you’ll lose a bit of weight living and working here because of semi-starvation.

Oh, and alcohol?  If you plan on drinking on a weekly basis here — you’ll probably be drinking Goon (extremely cheap wine in a bag).  The struggle is real.

Say goodbye to delicious $2 Chicken Fried Rice

5)  You’ll eat plenty of Domino’s & Subway for cheaper eating options. 

When grocery shopping is a bit expensive, and cooking in the crowded hostel kitchen is annoying — you’ll always be on the look-out for a good deal.  Thank God for Fast Food.  (T.G.F.F).  Domino’s and Subway have got you covered when you need a big and delicious meal, and you’re on the struggling backpacker budget.

6)  You’ll go to 7-11 and crave a Ham & Cheese Croissant Toastie

You are well aware that these delicious treats are only sold at 7-11’s in Thailand.  You were pissed off when you couldn’t find them in Malaysia, and you’ll feel that exact same feeling when you can’t purchase them in Australia.

7) You’ll take off your backpacker bracelets for job interviews.

“Nope.  I don’t want to.  They are never coming off.”  Well, unfortunately your backpacker attire will eventually have to be removed.  It’s great you have some travel souvenirs, and I know that each of those bracelets reminds you of a certain time and place in your life.  Whether it’s that group of friends in Cambodia — or your tubing mates in Laos.  Building up a solid collection of travel bracelets is really common out in South-East Asia — but you can’t be going to job interviews with all those ratty and withered bands on your arm.

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8)  You’ll get a decent job with relatively high wages to save up some money for more travel.

After going to a couple different recruitment agencies, you will land a job that you may or may not enjoy.  It doesn’t matter if you like it or not though, especially once you get your first paycheck.  The only thing you can think about is saving this money, and heading off on another backpacking trip.  You’ll think after every paycheck,  “Wow, I could live off this in Vietnam for at least three weeks”.

9)  You’ll have the urge to bargain down the price of expensive taxi rides.

No can do.  In Australia, you’ll have to get used to the meter (which has a high start rate, and increases ridiculously quick).  Definitely look into signing up for an UBER account as well.  It can help out, and can actually be cheaper at times.

10)  You’ll lose your tan from sitting inside an office all day at work.

You’re days of spending all day frolicking at the beach are over (unless you land a job with night shifts).  You’ll still have plenty of time to hit the beach and soak up the UV rays on the weekend, but it might be a bit harder to maintain that perfect tan.  (Doesn’t quite apply to me though.  Ginger problems)

11)  You’ll actually know what day of the week it is.

When you’re on a long-term backpacking trip, you’ll quickly lose track of what day of the week it is.  Everyday you wake up, and you are free to do with it as you please.  Monday vs. Saturday — doesn’t matter.  However, when you get out to Australia — that is no longer the case.  You’ll have a job with a weekly schedule, and might even be getting paid more if you’re working on the weekends.  There’s also always different events and music festivals happening on the weekends!

What day is it…? Monday…?

12)  You’ll be shocked at the cost of living and the low-quality of hostels.

Most people will be staying a hostel for at least a week or two before they get fully settled in Australia.  When you start apartment hunting, you’ll practically be in tears thinking about how much of your hard-earned paychecks will need to go to rent.  If you want your own room, you’ll be expected to pay at least 220-250 per week.  It’s frustrating, but that’s just Australia.  When it comes to hostels, in South-East Asia if you pay $10-$15 per night, it will be at a pretty upscale place, with relatively nice amenities.  In Australia, you can expect to pay at least $18-20 per night for a budget hostel, and it unfortunately won’t be the nicest place.  Try to limit your time at the hostels.  Find a good shared room apartment, and move in as quick as possible.

13)  You’ll miss saying “hello”, “goodbye”, “please”, and “thank you” in foreign languages.

It will be nice hearing English everywhere you go at first, but than you’ll start to miss the little things about backpacking in South-East Asia. For example, learning and practicing just the basic phrases you need when you’re traveling.  You might even accidentally greet some one in Thai, or say goodbye in Bahasa once or twice.

14)  You’ll notice there are still Asians everywhere

You might think your days of being surrounded by Asians speaking languages you don’t understand are over — WRONG.  I might have only been here for a month, but in Sydney I have definitely noticed that there is a very large Asian population here.  It’s not a bad a thing at all, it was just a little surprising.  Especially when I go to cheap little restaurants where I’m hoping for similar Asian prices, and see it’s over $10 for a single rice dish!

15) You’ll add some words to your vocabulary

Check out the blog posts I wrote titled “14 Words You’ll Start Saying when you Move to Australia“.  It just goes over some fun words that Australians use.  Cheers, mate, arvo, and more.

16)  You’ll Stop Fearing Public Restrooms

Let’s just put it out there.  Bathrooms in South-East Asia can be dirty as shit.  Squat toilets.  Bum guns.  No flush.  Well, you can say goodbye to those.  Public bathrooms are very well maintained here in Australia.  The benefits of moving back to a Westernized country.

17)  You’ll miss South-East Asia, but you’ll be stoked for your new adventures in Australia!

Backpacking South-East Asia is definitely a life-changing experience, but so is having the opportunity to live and work abroad in Australia!  It’s not too difficult to find work, the culture is amazing, and there are so many incredible places to visit.    It might take some getting used to at first, but extending your travels by completing a Working Holiday Visa in Australia is a decision you will not regret!

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Moving to Australia for a Working Holiday Visa after finishing backpacking trip from South-East Asia is really common.  It might take some time to adjust back into a Westernized country, but it will be a decision that you wont regret. 

Are you currently backpacking South-East Asia and want to make the move over to Australia!?  Feel free to Contact Me with any questions you have.  I was pretty damn nervous to make the move over here, but it is has been incredible so far!

Thanks for reading!  Share with your backpacker friends!

14 Words You’ll Start Saying When You Move to Australia

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G’day Mate.  How ya going!? 

I’ve been living in Australia for about one month now, and it’s weird how quickly I’ve been able to adapt to the local vocabulary.  I love the Australian accent, and sometimes saying these words may sound wierd without it , but I’ve still picked up quite a few.  If there’s one main rule about “speaking Australian” is that you basically just try to shorten every word as much as possible.  It’s pretty fun, and actually correlates with the culture here; laidback, relaxed, and focused on having good times.

If you move to Australia, definitely plan on adding these to your vocabulary. 

Straya

To start off with the list, I got to mention that it’s rare to even hear an Australian pronounce their full country name.  I often catch myself pronouncing every letter in Australia, and quickly realize how that’s not necessary.  Just shorten it to STRAYA!

Cheers

Coming from America, the only situation we ever say “cheers” is at the beginning of sharing a round of drinks.  That is definitely NOT THE CASE in Australia.  We say CHEERS for so many different social scenario’s.  It’s a way of saying thanks, understanding, drinking, and also a way of saying hello and goodbye.

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Mate

Might quite possible be the most obvious one on the list — when you move to Straya, you’re going to start saying mate.  You can try to fight it, but it’s going to happen.  I’ve already caught myself send it in Facebook messages to friends back in the States, and they were to quick to laugh and judge me for the use of this vocabulary addition.

Arvo

Short for afternoon.  It’s that simple.  It goes back to the cardinal rule of Australian language.  Why would you say the whole word for afternoon when you can just say “arvo” in half the time.  “Oi mate, how ya going this arvo?”

Heaps

Australians use the word “heaps”….well, HEAPS.  I’ve slowly stopped saying “a lot”, “many”, “hella”, and “tons”.  All of these words have been swapped with HEAPS.

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Loose

The only way I used to say loose was if I was referring to a promiscuous girl (cue Timbaland music), or if an article didn’t fit right.  It didn’t take to long to realize that in Australia, loose has an additional meaning.  To put it simply, it means getting “drunk”, “wild”, and “out of control”.  For example, “last weekend Hamish got so loose, it was hilarious”.

Knackered

Another word that might be well known around the world, but is never really used in American English.  When you’re around people saying it enough though, you’ll find yourself adding it into your diction.  “There’s no way I’m going out tonight, I’m knackered from working all day”.

 Sunnies

This is just a short and fun word for “sunglasses”.  I think this one will stick with me for life.

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 Keen

Are you interested in going…?  “Yeah, I’m keen”.  This word basically means you’re down for something.  You’re interested.  You’re KEEN AS.

 Macca’s

The first couple times I heard this, I had no idea what people meant.  But I did quickly learn that no one ever calls “McDonald’s by it’s full name!  If you’re looking for a BigMac, head on over to Macca’s!

Brekky

You NEVER go for “breakfast”.  You just gotta shorten the word, and add a “Y”!

Ranga

This one is specifically for me because I had red-hair, freckles, and pale skin — A.K.A — I’m a “Ginger”.  Australians do use the term Ginger as well, but of course they have created another term for us red-headed folk.  They call us “rangas”.  Which is short for…Orangutan!

Cunt

Last but not least — arguably the harshest word in the English language, “Cunt” is used much more often here in Australia.  Coming from America (or anywhere else in the world), it can be a shock at first.  As an example, I even heard this word used in advertisement for a TV show!  I know just because you move here doesn’t mean you’ll start saying it, but I couldn’t make a list like this and not include this favorite Aussie swear word.

Check out the video to understand this a bit more!

Think I’m missing any words?  Let me know!

Share with your Aussie mates and backpacker friends!

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Top 10 Electronic Dance Music Festivals (EDM): Southeast Asia

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South-East Asia = Party Paradise

Electronic Dance Music (E.D.M) is all over South-East Asia.  Whether you’re partying on Khao San Road in Bangkok, or walking through a night market in Malaysia — you will definitely hear quite a bit of EDM during your travels in this area of the world.  Music Festivals and Raves in Asia might not be as abundant as they are in Europe or America , but over the past few years more and more festivals and events are popping up in different countries.  I’ve scowered the internet, and I’ve compailed this list which I blieve to be the Top 10 Electronic Dance Music Festivals in South-East Asia.

1 )  Shipsomnia

  • When:  Beginning of January
  • Where:  Singapore – Phuket – Langkawi – Singapore
  • Website:  http://www.shipsomnia.com/
  • Why:   A MUSIC & ARTS FESTIVAL MEETS HI SEAS MYTHICAL ADVENTURE.  Unofficially nicknamed, “Tomorrowland At Sea”, Shipsomnia has gotten a lot of positive media attention.  With the growth of music festivals at sea, like Holy Ship or It’s The Ship (#6), Shipsomnia looks like it could be the next big thing.  Sailing from Singapore – Phuket round-trip, with a quick stop in Langkawi, this looks like a party that can’t be missed.  This all-inclusive music festival is guaranteed to be one epic vacation.

2 ) Road to Ultra – Singapore, Bangkok, Bali, & Manila

  • When:  Various Dates
  • Where:  Singapore, Bangkok, Bali, and Manila
  • Website:  http://www.ultramusicfestival.com/
  • Why:  Ultra Music Festival seems like they have one goal in mind — global domination.  From Miami, Croatia, Korea, Japan, South Africa — it now looks like they have turned their eyes to South-East Asia, and have added several festival locations throughout the region.  If you find yourself on a backpacking trip through South-East Asia, plan your trip wisely and hit up a Road to Ultra event!

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3 )  Neverland Manila

  • When: Early October
  • Where:  Manila, Philippines
  • Website:  http://neverlandmanila.com/
  • Why:  Known as the “biggest EDM event in The Philippines”, this festival brings a massive line-up full of commercial house music.  If you’re looking for a solid party, this one will not disappoint.  Upcoming festival dates haven’t been posted yet, but be on the look out because this will be one crazy rave.       

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4 )  ZoukOut Music Festival

  • When:  Mid-December
  • Where:  Singapore
  • Website:  http://www.zoukout.com/
  • Why:  The people behind one of the biggest and well-known clubs in Asia, “Zouk”, have created it’s own music festival, and it’s been one of the more popular festivals out in South-East Asia.  Located in Singapore, you’ll find the tickets, drinks, and accomodations a bit more expensive, but you can’t complain when they bring A-list talent, incredible stage production, and an overall amazing atmosphere.

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5 )  DJakarta Warehouse Project

  • When:  Mid December
  • Where:  Jakarta, Indonesia
  • Website:  http://www.djakartawarehouse.com/
  • Why:  If you take a look at the current and past line-ups, that will be reason enough to visit this massive party.  Jakarta might not be everyone’s favorite place to visit in Indonesia, but with this line-up stacked with heavy hitters, you’re definitely in for a wild night.   

6 )  808 Festival

  • When:  Mid December
  • Where:  Bangkok, Thailand
  • Website:  http://www.djakartawarehouse.com/
  • Why:  If you take a look at the current and past line-ups, that will br reason enough to visit this massive party.  Jakarta might not be everyone’s favorite place to visit in Indonesia, but with this line-up stacked with heavy hitters, you’re definitely in for a wild night.   

7.  It’s The Ship

  • When:  Late November
  • Where:  Singapore – Langkawi – Singapore
  • Website:  http://www.itstheship.com
  • Why: IT’S THE SHIP is Asia’s Largest Festival on a cruise. Setting sail on the The Royal Caribbean International’s luxurious Mariner of the Seas– will play host to over 30 international and regional headlining acts.  Sailing out of Singapore to Langkawi, Malaysia, this is guaranteed to be a voyage unlike any other.

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8.  S20 — Songkran Music Festival

  • When:  April 12 – 14, 2016
  • Where:  Bangkok, Thailand
  • Website:    http://www.s2ofestival.com/
  • Why:  Songkran is 3-day celebration of the Thai New Year, and it was one of the most epic experiences of my travels in South-East Asia.  I would personally recommend people to experience the madness up in Chiang Mai, but if you find yourself in Bangkok — checking out this S20 Festival is an absolute must.

9.  Mysterious World

  • When:  Mid April
  • Where:  Kuching, Malaysia
  • Website:  www.facebook.com/MysteriousFest
  • Why:  For Electronic Dance Music fans, there is no better time to fly over to the Malaysian side of Borneo than to experience Mysterious World.  The line-up is never “stacked”, but it would definitely be an experience you’ll never forget.  Kuching is absolutely beautiful, Malaysians are really fun to party with, and tickets are really affordable.

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10.  The Experience

  • When:  New Years Eve ( 4 Day Festival )
  • Where:  Koh Tao, Thailand
  • Website:  www.facebook.com/MysteriousFest
  • Why:  If you’re a die hard PsyTrance fan, then The Experience on Koh Tao, Thailand will be your definition of paradise.  Over these four days there is practically non-stop psy trance bumping the entire time.  While a lot of people flock over to Koh Phangan for New Years Eve, do yourself a favor and check out The Experience!  The fast BPM, the neon colors, and the atmosphere are a recipe for a damn good time.                

The Manly – Spit Coastal Walk [Photo Essay]

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I have decided do try and complete these Ten Best Coastal Walks in Sydney.

I’ve been here just over a month now, and I can already tell that this is an extremely outdoorsy city.  Every weekend you’ll see people out exercising, chilling at the beach, walking their dogs, and tons of other outdoor activities.  I’m working full-time and don’t want to waste my weekends, so I’m focused on seeing as much of this beautiful city has to offer.

If you haven’t seen my pictures from our last adventure, definitely take a look at my blog post about the Bondi- Coogee Coastal Walk

So for my 2nd Coastal walk, we decided to head check out the Manly – Spit coastal walk.

So Let’s Take a Photographic Journey From Manly Wharf – Spit Brigde Coastal Walk

First Things First — Take the Ferry From Circular Quay to Manly Wharf. 

A must-do for any visitor to Sydney, and will provide amazing views of the Opera House & Harbour Bridge

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Get off the ferry and walk left.  You’ll see the trail for Manly – Spit.  This is leaving the view leaving Manly area.

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The coastal walk has begun.

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We’re just getting started — Arrived at the first and only Pool on this walk

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 It’s right by an amazing beach as well!

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Take a swim.  Or Keep on walking.  You’ve got a long way to go…

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Depending on the tide, you might have to take a different route.  If you can, try and choose to walk left.  It goes along the beach, and is absolutely gorgeous.

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If it’s a nice and sunny day, you’ll be rewarded with amazingly blue water, and tons of boats!

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You’ll keep walking along this coast.  Full of beautiful water, beaches, and boats.

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Welcome to Reef Beach.  Keep yo clothes on…

There were actually people here having a party.  They brought big speakers, a BBQ, and tons of booze.  (Ideas for next time).

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You might think you’re almost finished…but you’re actually only-half way done

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The 2nd part of the trip gives some amazing views though!

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You’ll meet some fun creatures in the bush (that won’t kill you)

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Striking a pose

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Keep on walking the coast.

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The last little stretch is stunning !  You might even see some rich people out on their boats

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Finally — you will make it to Spit Beach where you will end your walk

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Congratulations.  You just walked 9-10 KM’s! Now all you gotta do is walk across Spit Bridge, and catch a bus back to Manly or the city.

Hope you enjoyed the photos, as much as I enjoyed taking them.

Have you been on any coastal walks in Sydney?  Which one is your favorite?  Let me know which one I should conquer next!

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The Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk [Photo Essay]

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THE BONDI TO COOGEE WALK IS A MUST WHEN VISITING SYDNEY

I honestly had no idea it was this beautiful.  I had seen plenty of pictures of Bondi before, but didn’t know that this coastal walks would be so breathtaking..

It took me over 3 weeks in Sydney to finally make my way down to to the beach and check it out for myself.  So without further ado, join me as I show you my favorite pictures from my Bondi to Coogee coastal exploration.

Welcome to Bondi Beach.  This is where it all begins…

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Make Your Way Over to Famous Bondi Pool

DSC_2537Turn around and look at the beginning of the coastal walk

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Begin the walk…

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Look back and wave goodbye to Bondi

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On To Better Places & Views

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Keep on Coastal Walking

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Welcome to Tamarama Beach

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And Just a bit further is Bronte Beach

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Bronte Beach has a Pool as well!

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Keep on Walking!  You’ll be rewarded with amazing coastal views!

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Soon enough you’ll find yourself at Gordon’s Bay

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Then one last quick stretch, and you’ve made it to Coogee Beach

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That’s the Bondi – Coogee Coastal Walk…

If you’re coming to Sydney, don’t miss out on this incredible experience.

P.S — Bring Your Camera!

 Check out the Sculpture By The Sea 2015 !

My Top 25 Experiences in South-East Asia

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I’ve spent over a year living, working, studying, and traveling around South-East Asia.  I have fallen in love with this corner of the world.  The cheap prices, amazing sights, and great friends — it’s hard for me to leave.  I wanted to reflect on how awesome my travels have been, so I put together this list of my top 25 favorite South-East Asia experiences.  Beware — after reading this you might just book a one-way ticket to Bangkok to begin your own epic adventure.

1.  Exploring Bali by Moto

Bali is one of the best places to rent a scooter, hit the road, and explore the island.  I had ridden motos around different parts of South-East Asia, but I really think that driving in Bali is when I really “perfected” it.  Driving through rush-hour traffic in Bali my first time was intense, but now I feel like I can drive anywhere.  From resort crashing in Nusa Dua, watching the surfers in Uluwatu, or driving to Tanah Lot to check out the sunet…Bali is defiintely one of my favorite places for moto adventures.

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2.  Island Hopping in Palawan

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, Palawan is one of the most beautiful places in the world.  It’s definitely in my top three places in South-East Asia, and island hopping around Coron and El Nido was truly amazing.  I met great groups of people, swam in pristine waters, and was surrounded by beautiful limestone cliffs.  For people looking for natural beauty, you can’t beat Palawan.

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3.  Songkran Water Festival

Hands down one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.  Songkran was 3 days wandering the streets of Chiang Mai armed with a super soaker and a bottle of Hong Thong.  I met a ton of great people, shotgunned plenty of beers, and celebrated the Thai New Year the way it should be done.  Why don’t more countries have a nationwide water fight?  That’s a question that deserves an answer.  If you haven’t seen my video, check it out!  Watch in HD.  

4.  Guest Ex-Pat in Kuala Lumpur

I’ve been using Kuala Lumpur as my “home-base” for all my travels out in South-East Asia.  I got some great friends out here, a fancy luxury apartment, and one bad-ass rooftop infinity pool that overlooks the city’s impressive skyline.  Every time I come back to KL I get a nice mix of detox and relaxation, to crazy parties and poker nights.  I didn’t like this city too much the first time I visited, but now it’s one of my favorite places in South-East Asia.  I even applied for a few jobs to turn myself into a full-time expat, but I ended up going a different route.

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5.  Paradise Living on Gili Trawangan

Living and working on Gili Trawangan was definitely one of the best decisions I made during my time in South-East Asia.  I know I’ll be moving back there for another round soon enough.  Don’t know exactly when that time will come, but I’m definitely looking forward to getting back to my favorite island in South-East Asia.  The perfect beaches, the gorgeous sunsets, and amazing backpacker vibe — one visit to Gili Trawangan will not be enough.

6.  Snorkeling Around Flores

Hands down the best snorkeling of my entire life, I had the greatest time exploring different snorkeling spots around Komodo and Flores.  It actually made me kind of sad I don’t scuba dive, because I think it made me realize how spectacular exploring the underwater life can be.  I thought about getting my PADI, but I have a hearing condition I don’t want to hurt my ears anymore

7.  Halong Bay Castaway Cruise

Ohhhh, this trip.  This crazy 3 day catastrophe was a whole mess of fun.  The entire trip is basically a 3-day long booze cruise.  One night got a little too crazy for me, which happens from time to time…But I met the coolest people on this trip, sailed and kayaked through Halong Bay, and had a blast.  I have to give a shoutout to the entire Halong Bay crew.  You guys are the greatest.  #NoDoubt

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8.  Maya Bay Sleepaboard

Most people who visit Koh Phi Phi make the trip over to Maya Bay, the famous film location of Leonardo DiCaprio’s hit movie “Th Beach”.  While there are often complaints that this tourist spot is too crowded, I was lucky enough to actually get to sleep on the beach.  I went on the Maya Bay Sleepabroad trip, and could not recommend it enough.  I even recommend it as the absolute best thing to do on Koh Phi Phi.

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9.  Wonderfruit Music Festival

There might not be many music festivals in South-East Asia, but Wonderfruit was definitely one of the best weekends I’ve had in Thailand.  The venue was beautiful, I met some awesome people, and the music was bumping 24/7.  I don’t know where I’ll be in December, but I’m definitely trying to go again this year.  Read my review of Wonderfruit.

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10.  Koh Phangan Raving

Love it or hate it, Koh Phangan is one of the best places to party in South-East Asia.  While most people flock to this hedonistic island for the “Full Moon Party”, there are other parties on the island which are actually much better.  I’m a big fan of music festivals and good techno music, but the music scene isn’t that great out in South-East Asia.  Koh Phangan is one of the few places out here where you can really some amazing DJ’s play some of the best underground house and techno.

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11.  Komodo Island Trip

This 4 day adventures sailing from Lombok to Flores was a highlight of my travels in Indonesia.  Our boat was full of great people, and the entire trip I was surrounded by beautiful Indonesian islands.  Great snorkeling, beautiful beaches, and big ass dragons.  I think this area was also one of the most beautiful regions of South-East Asia.  If anyone is planning a trip out to Indonesia, I would definitely recommend them going on one of these Komodo tours.

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12.  Waterfalls, Beaches, Sunsets, and Parties in Langkawi

Ive now visited Langkawi three seperate times, and I’m not mad about that at all.  The waterfalls in Langkawi are beautiful and provide perfect spots for a swim.  The beaches are clean with great soft white sand, and the sunsets on Pantai Cenang are absolutely stunning.  Backpacking Langkawi should be a priority for people in South-East Asia.

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13.  Hiking Mt. Rinjani

One of the hardest hikes I’ve ever done, Rinjani is not for the weak hearted.  When you think you’re getting closer to the top, you’re not.  You just keep climbing up and up, until your legs can’t move anymore.  The sunset and sunrises up there though make the whole trip worth it.  I have no plans to do this hike ever again, but I’m really glad I did.  I even got a picture of mine featured on Buzzfeed!

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14.  Christmas on Koh Tao

Although it was hard to spend Christmas away from California, spending the holiday season on Koh Tao was a great experience.  It was awesome being surrounded by fellow backpackers all wearing santa hats and red singlets, and enjoying Chang beers while watching beautiful Koh Tao sunsets.

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15.  Falling in Love with Laos

I had been living and traveling in Asia for awhile before I finally made the decision to visit Laos, and I absolutely fell in love with that amazing country.  It’s hard for me to pick a favorite, but Don Det was one of the best last minute decisions I’ve ever made.  As well, partying in Vang Vieng for a week was absolutely insane.  I also met two awesome English girls that I traveled with the entire time.  The whole 2 weeks I had in Laos was filled with nothing but good times.

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16.  Moto Journey from Chiang Mai – Pai

This ride was absolutely beautiful, and definitely the most fun and adventurous way to get to Pai.  It’s only a 3-4 drive from Chiang Mai, and a relatively easy ride.  It does get really curvy for awhile, but it’s all apart of the experience.  Then on top of that, Pai was one of my favorite places I’ve traveled to in Thailand.  Backpackers in Pai can often get stuck there because of the extremely relaxed vibe.  The food is delicious, there’s some decent nightlife, and there is no shortage of amazing things to do in Pai.

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17.  Resort Crashing

One of my favorite things to do in South-East Asia is sneaking into fancy 5 start resorts, and using their amenities.  I’ve done this in Langkawi, Bali, and Thailand.  It might not be the most ethical activity in the world, but it’s a lot of fun.  I just love paying $5-$10 a night for a hostel bed, and swimming in luxury pools.

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18.  Future Music Festival Asia

This was the first music festival in South-East Asia I attended, and I had an absolute blast.  It was unfortunate though, because the last day was cancelled due to deaths.  The first two days were solid though!  I was with a great group of people, and I was pretty impressed with the actual festival.  The first night Deadmau5 played a decent set, and the next night at ASOT was nothing but quality trance music.

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19.  Island Hopping & Snorkeling on Koh Chang

I hadn’t really heard too much about Koh Chang, but I’m really glad I went there.  The island hopping tour we went on was really cool, and we turned it into our own little booze cruise.  I think we finished 3 large bottles of Hong Thong between four people.  Yeah, it got sloppy.  The Chinese tourists didn’t know what to do with us.

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 20. Waterfalls & Whale Sharks in Cebu

Spending one month in the Philippines was one of the best experiences of my entire life.  Swimming with whale sharks in Oslob was incredible, and I had no idea about how beautiful the waterfalls were on Cebu island.  My 30 days in the Philippines wasn’t enough, but I know that the next time I find myself in South-East Asia, I’ll be back for another amazing backpacking trip.

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21.  Submitting My Final Paper For My Master’s Degree in El Nido

I’ll never forget the feeling of finishing my master’s degree, and celebrating on a private island party in Palawan.  I met a great group of people in El Nido, and it was a great way to finish my Master’s Degree.

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22.  Koh Rong

“Nothing can go wrong on Koh Rong.”  I might have only spent 5 days there, but it was definitely five of the chillest days I’ve ever had.  Nothing to do all day besides relax, swim, and enjoy paradise.  Long beach is absolutely stunning, and I witnessed one of the most incredible sunsets of my life.  I was lucky enough to be there during the Full Moon Party as well, and had a solid night partying until the sun came up.

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23.  Chinese New Year in Hong Kong

Not technically South-East Asia, but when you find a $42 flight to Hong Kong for Chinese New Year…you take it.  Hong Kong is an amazing city, and experiencing it during this incredible celebration was worth every penny.  It was ridiculously expensive, but I definitely had a blast.  It was also really great to check out Hong Kong Disneyland (since I grew up in Anaheim), as well as go on the Hong Kong Pub Crawl.  Oh, and those fireworks!  Incredible to witness in person.

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24.  Perhentian Island Paradise

I was a backpacker on the Perhentian Islands during my first trip to South-East Asia, and wasn’t too impressed.  Luckily, I made the last-minute decision to head back for a second time, and could not be happier that I did.  I met a solid group  of people, and realized how beautiful these two islands are.

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25.  Friends Visiting from California

Being a long-term traveler has been incredible, but there have been times where I’ve been extremely homesick.  When two different friends of mine contacted me to plan a trip out to South-East Asia, I got really excited to show them around some of my favorite places.  Shoutout to Rashad and Gina!  We had some epic times out here, and I can’t wait to for our next adventures — wherever in the world they may be.

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THANK YOU SOUTH-EAST ASIA

If you’re thinking about booking one-way ticket to South-East Asia…do it.  As you can see from these 25 experiences, I’ve had the absolute best time traveling this region of the world.  I don’t know when I’m going back, but I’m definitely looking forward to adding to this list soon.

Sometimes it’s not about the journey or the destination..but about the people you meet along the way.” — Nishan Panwar

Shoutout to everyone I’ve met during my travels out here.  Whether we traveled together for weeks or months, or we only had a brief encounter– you all were apart of what made my time in South-East Asia so incredible!

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