Page 2 of Virahita Travel Blog Posts

Africa » Morocco April 14th 2012

One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time. ~ André Gide We were finally venturing from our SE Asia safety net to lands unknown. Mysterious, exotic and perhaps a hint of danger Once again we were mixing it up with a mixture of "organised" backpacking and luxury holidays. I'm becoming an expert at planning these trips to get maximum bang for our buck... while still appreciating we do like to live it up on occasion. R&R in Bali is now behind us, as too are the day to day worries of our normal urban work-a-day lives... A t least for the next four months. We begin this part of our journey in the North African country of Morocco. Morocco is considered one of the most ... read more
BackRoads of Morocco

Asia » Indonesia » Bali » Lovina March 24th 2012

While this is primarily a trip about relaxing, we are rarely a couple to sit around and do nothing for too long and after a week or so we tend to find relaxing, not so relaxing. Not being our first trip to Bali, we've already seen many of the typical highlights - Tanah Lot, Uluwatu, Mt Batur, The Monkey Forest, The Elephant Cave, markets, markets and more markets, temples, temples and more temples. We've never ventured much further north than Mt Batur though, so setting off with Katuk, our driver, we decided to explore the area around Lovina. This coastal strip stretches about 10kms westward from the city of Singaraja. Singaraja, known as the Lion City, was once the main port in Bali, during the Dutch occupation prior to WWII. Port traffic has since moved south ... read more
Local warung - Lovina Beach
GitGit Twin Waterfalls
The Falls

Asia » Indonesia » Bali » Sanur March 23rd 2012

The sound of silence... No horns beeping... No bustle of the morning markets... No local shopkeepers shouting to each other as they open for the days tourist trade..... No men shouting "Taxi" or "Transport" to tourists wandering the streets. In fact no tourists. At least not on the streets of Bali. Not today. Today is Nyepi. Nyepi is arguably the biggest festival in Bali. From 6am to 6am the following morning, Hindu Balinese celebrate a day of self-reflection and anything that interferes with that is eating (Scott's in trouble) no talking (I'm in trouble) and no having fun (C'mon, it's our holiday). While primarily a Hindu Ritual, non-hindu residents and tourists are expected to, and do, observe the customs out of respect for the locals. When we discovered we would be in Sanur during this ... read more
Offerings for Nyepi
Offerings and exorcism ceremony take place at the village Crossroad
Scaring away the demons

Asia » Indonesia » Bali » Ubud March 21st 2012

The pre-holiday holiday is about letting go of work, our day to day lives and recharging, in preparation for the big adventure, which is what has led us to Ubud in the first place. Ubud seems to have become the mecca for Yoga acolytes and alternative health types from all over the world as well as those on a "journey to find themselves". Eat, Pray Love is to Ubud what The Beach is to Khao San Road. Trendy cafes such as Clear (shoes at the door please) and Kafe, touting organic, vegetarian, vegan and raw fare are bursting at the seams with dreadlocked, harem pants wearing travellers and ex-pats engaged in important sounding conversations around the merits of different yoga classes at The Yoga Barn, the latest documentaries about the cause of the week or the ... read more
The Yoga Barn
Clear Cafe
Clear Cafe

Asia » Indonesia » Bali » Ubud March 17th 2012

The "Pre-Holiday" holiday philosophy. Many people have laughed and given Scott and I grief about taking a pre-holiday holiday. There is however "method in the madness" as they say. Our big adventure (or endless summer - as we've nicknamed our five month sojourn around North Africa, Middle East and Europe) is not so much a time out as an opportunity to cram as many of our bucket-list travel experiences as we could into one big trip. And believe me...its crammed alright! I think a little R & R might be called for first - after 20 years of work, study and daily commute to Sydney. Where better than our old faithful - BALI. In addition, I need the blogging practice before heading out on our "real holiday". It's been about 18 months since my last travel ... read more
View from the restaurant
Beji Ubud Infinity Pools
A quiet place

Asia » Vietnam » South Central Coast » Quảng Nam » Hoi An October 30th 2010

As we are prone to do when our holidays are coming to an end, we decided to splurge and have a couple of final days of luxury - my reward from Scott for making it through two weeks of backpacking (I am sticking to the belief that backpacking is backpacking...even if Intrepid do take the the hassle out of it - but hey, it's a big step for the control freak in me.) So we boarded a plane and headed south to the coastal town of Hoi An. Hoi An Ancient Town is an exceptionally well-preserved example of a South-East Asian trading port dating from the 15th to the 19th century. Its buildings and its street plan reflect the influences, both indigenous and foreign, that have combined to produce this unique heritage site. The town is ... read more
Lanterns in the River
Markets in Hoi An
Hoi An at Night

Asia » Vietnam » Northeast » Quang Ninh » Halong Bay October 30th 2010

Having come to the end of our travels with our Intrepid companions, it was time to set off on some more adventures of our own. Any trip to northern Vietnam requires at least an overnight stay on a "junk" in Halong Bay. We decided to book a 2 night/3 day cruise on Jewel of the Bay. Halong Bay, in the Gulf of Tonkin, includes some 1,600 islands and islets, forming a spectacular seascape of limestone pillars. Because of their precipitous nature, most of the islands are uninhabited and unaffected by a human presence. The site's outstanding scenic beauty is complemented by its great biological interest. Several of the islands are hollow, with enormous caves. Hang Dau Go (Wooden stakes Cave) is the largest grotto in the Halong area. French tourists visited in the late 19th century, ... read more
Jewel of the Bay
Halong Bay - Shrouded in Mist
Food as Art

Asia » Vietnam » Red River Delta » Hanoi October 23rd 2010

After the relative quiet of Northern Thailand and Laos, Hanoi was a shock! Of course, we'd been to Vietnam before, and certainly knew what the major cities were like, having negotiated the streets of Saigon a few years back. I had memories of dodging several of the 9 million motorcycles and praying every time I stepped on to the street. I had naively expected something similar in Hanoi but felt I was up to the challenge this time. Nothing prepared me however for the chaos! While there were still several million motorcycles taking to the streets in blatant disregard of any possible road rules, the age of the car had well and truly hit Vietnam. And these were not small city run-abouts. These were large luxury SUVs that had no respect for stop signs, traffic-lights, pedestrian ... read more
Scott & Shelly @ Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
The Gang @ Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
The Water Puppets

Asia » Laos » West » Vientiane October 21st 2010

It was a four hour trip from Vang Vieng to Vientiane, the capital of Laos, four hours with our favourite Karaoke guide.  He actually managed to get a few lines of My Heart Will Go On out of Dave.  the rest of us were keeping our mouths firmly shut. The largest city of Laos sit on the northern bank of the Mekong river, looking across to Thailand, the name translating to "City of Sandalwood".   Vientiane is characterised by broad, boulevards and rundown, creaking colonial mansions. Dotted with rustic wats surrounded by coconut palms and a generally sedentary pace of life as well, the allure of the place can be understood.   It is more a town for relaxing in leafy beer gardens, eating and drinking, rather than viewing Museums, Palaces and Temples.  Having said that, ... read more
Buddha Statues in Wat Si Saket
The Sim (Ordination Hall)  at Wat Si Saket
Buddha Statue at Wat Si Saket

Asia » Laos » West » Vang Vieng October 19th 2010

Sadly, it was time to leave Luang Prabang and head over the mountains to Vang Vieng.  The town is primarily a backpackers haunt, where we'd been told that the must do activity was tubing but, viewing some photos it looked quite tame.  Scott and I, being used to white water kayaking and rafting in Australia and New Zealand were thinking we might give this a miss.  Luckily Steph, who is a fountain of knowledge on all things Loatian, filled me in via email. But more on that later...   We said goodbye to our fabulous local guide, Tui, at Luang Prabang.  He was off home to see his wife, who had delivered their second child while we were cruising down the Mekong.  We also picked up our new guide - the "crazy karaoke" guide, funnily enough ... read more
Spectacular Mountain Views
Scott and Shelly
Village Outside Vang Vieng

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