While Jenny continued traveling through Vietnam and into Cambodia, I opted to backtrack a little and revisit Perth. Our 2 months in SE Asia left me exhausted and homesick and I was ready for a return to routine and “normal” life as I used to know it. Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to get from Nha Trang, Vietnam to Perth, Australia, so I spent about 24 hours traveling back to the land of Oz. Most of this time was spent on long layovers in Saigon and Kuala Lumpur.
That’s what they always say. In reality, we’re just spending a boatload of time together. Possibly more than married couples do in a year or even a few years of marriage.
We are parting ways for a few weeks to do separate things and it’s okay! Jenny will be continuing down south through Vietnam and into Cambodia with our wonderful Swiss friends (from Halong Bay) and Kerry will be heading to Perth for some R&R.
You’ll hear from each of us separately for a bit, but there’s no need to panic. We’ll be back in each other’s arms soon enough (in the Philippines).
In the meantime, check out our YouTube channel where we constantly add random videos.
~ Kerry & Jenny
We arrived in Cairns late Wednesday evening and took a taxi to our hostel. As soon as we arrived and checked in, we snuck into our room trying not to wake our new roomies and got some rest. Thursday morning we woke up, ate some breakfast, and talked to the front office about booking our scuba trip for the following day. We decided to go with a company called TUSA, who did a trip to the outer Great Barrier Reef, and allowed for 3 different scuba dives at 2 locations. The company came highly recommended by our hostel, so we went for it and got that scheduled for departure Friday morning from the wharf that was about a 10 minute walk from where we were staying.
We decided to have a low key day and took the city bus to Trinity Beach, which with frequent stops, etc, took about an hour to get to. Cairns doesn’t really have any beaches to speak of right near the heart of the city, so either way you have to travel about 20-30km to get to a beach. We arrived at Trinity Beach to find pretty much no one there..which was completely fine with us! The beaches in Cairns are not comparable to Sydney beaches, but we are 2 beach loving ladies who are not THAT picky when it comes to sand, sun and water. We relaxed on the beach, got a TON of sun, and once we decided that we were entirely too dehydrated to be in the sun any longer, we walked across the promenade to a lovely beachside cafe and shared a tapas platter, some ice creams and beers.
We went back to the beach for a bit, but decided soon that we had soaked up enough sun for the day…and it was HOT out. The weather here is temps in the 90’s with what feels like 100% humidity! We took the bus back to town, went to Woolworth’s (the local supermarket) and grabbed some dinner supplies (more meats, cheese, carrots, dips and crackers) and went back to the hostel to relax, shower, and have a quiet dinner.
Friday morning we woke up SUPER excited and giddy…because this was the day we had waited for!!! Most people only get to dream of seeing the Great Barrier Reef, yet here we are, lucky enough to be scuba certified and diving the outer reef..which is the part of the reef that has yet to be destroyed by tourists. We got ready, threw on some free sunscreen that a prior had left for anyone to use (we don’t know you, but thanks girl!…sunscreen here is expensive), ate our free breakfast at the hostel (cereal and toast) and walked to the wharf.
We boarded TUSA T6, the boat that would be taking us to the outer reef, and had some brief meetings with the instructors on how the day would go, and went over some of the rules of scuba that I’m sure is a requirement for all scuba diving trips. We were placed into groups, and assigned a dive guide. Our guide was a Japanese guy, who spoke very little English (and had hair like a Lego man..their joke, not ours), but I guess when you’ll be underwater the whole time with them…there is no need to be able to communicate verbally! We were Group #1, so we got to enter the water first each of the three dives. We were initially slightly nervous, just because this was our first real certified dive! Once we hit the water and were told it was time to descend, all of our training kicked in and we were naturals! Our masks never fogged up like we were worried they would (they did while doing our Open Water Certification…but maybe that was nerve related), and we were able to completely enjoy the scenery around us.
We descended down into the coral and saw the most beautiful colored coral and fish imaginable! There were fish with every color of the rainbow on them, small fish, big fish, sweet-lipped fish, tons of schools of fish! We saw a GIGANTIC eel….one that reminded us of Ursala’s eels from the Little Mermaid! It was like a foot in diameter and at least 3 feet long…we didn’t see the end of it as it was hiding out in some coral. But it had TEETH! Big ones! And it kept opening its mouth and showing us it’s teeth…which was scary!! Kerry had her GoPro out filming as we first approached it, then turned the GoPro to Jenny to see if she saw the eel. She clearly could see at once that Jenny had indeed seen the eel, since here eyes were just about bugging out of her head! Jenny is afraid of eels…but was a trooper! We saw some GIANT clams, which opened and closed right in front of us. Our guide pointed out some upside down fish and clownfish and we swam right by a sting-ray and some jellyfish.
After diving twice at the first location (but diving 2 different routes), the boat set off for the second location. We had a lovely lunch provided by TUSA and relaxed in the sun for a bit. Our second dive location was amazing as well! The only thing that we didn’t see that we had hoped for was sharks, but we are certain at some point on a dive in our near future this WILL happen!
As soon as we boarded the boat for the hour and a half ride back to the wharf, we cracked open some beers and chatted with the crew. We enjoyed meeting the guides and getting helpful hints on what to do next, since many of them had traveled to a lot of the places we intend to go! The beers were going down well after an amazing day on the Great Barrier Reef, and we departed from the boat feeling pretty darn fabulous. We stopped by Woolworth’s again to grab a few more things for dinner and then grabbed some beer from the liquor store and headed back to the hostel.
Our roommates hung out in the room with us all evening, and we chatted and drank beers until exhaustion hit. Through our conversations with our roomies, we learned that they had all just graduated from NYU, 2 were from the states and 1 was actually an Aussie living in the states. These girls were so much fun and we realized how small of a world it actually is…one of them (Dre) was starting with Deutsche Bank this coming summer, which is where Jenny worked for over 7 years. Another girl (Ash) was starting with JP Morgan, and would be doing training with Jenny’s cousin in NYC this summer. The last one, Jen, chatted with Kerry and seemed to get some great insight for her future career in UX (user experience), and Kerry gave her some pointers on companies that are good to work for and advice on how to break into that field.
Saturday we woke up feeling extremely lazy (others would call this hungover…) and decided finally around 10:30am to get going for the day. We headed on the city bus to a beach called Palm Cove, which is slightly further than Trinity Beach. We got there excited for a day of sun, but quickly the weather turned rainy….and continued…and continued. The first rain shower that appeared had us running for cover in the cafe that we had decided to go to for lunch. We enjoyed a nice brunch there, with some coffee (Kerry) and beer (both of us), then attempted to head back out to the beach when the rain stopped. We were there approximately 2 minutes before the rain started and eventually we called it a bust and headed back to our hostel to finish up our beers and have dinner. We hung out with our roomies a bit more then hit the sack, as we had a long day of travel ahead of us on Sunday.
The absolute highlight of our trip to Cairns, Australia was most certainly getting to scuba dive the Great Barrier Reef! We are not sure how other dives will compare, but we have absolutely caught the scuba bug…we cannot wait to plan our next dive in the VERY near future!! For now, we are in Perth, where we are staying with Kerry’s aunt and uncle for about a week, and also visiting with some of Jenny’s friends who are here on vacation.
~ Jenny & Kerry
The remainder of our visit in Sydney (outside of our many beach journeys) was spent seeing some of the major sites of the city.
On Tuesday, we walked outside to a rain shower. We decided to hit up the Sydney SeaLife Aquarium – first, because it’s cool…and second, it would provide shelter from the rain. We took the train and made our way through Darling Harbour to the aquarium. It’s a super cute area, but unfortunately it was still pouring so we got our tickets and entered immediately. We saw some adorable penguins, jellyfish, tons of fish, sharks, sting rays, seahorses, dugongs (sea cows) and many more! Here are some pics we snapped throughout the aquarium.
After we left the Aquarium, the rain had not let up, so we decided to park it at a place for lunch and have some beers (shocking, we know). We settled on King Street Brewhouse on the wharf of Darling Harbour and hung out there a couple of hours. Once the rain cleared, we headed back to our hostel to get ready for our “Galentine’s date” (see what we did there?! ha). We had known that it was Valentine’s day and wanted to do something fun to celebrate….so therefore we booked a show at the famous Sydney Opera House. Yes, we are super classy. Oh, but wait, not to mislead you…we saw no Opera. We instead opted to get tickets to see a cirque-type show called Barbu. We were warned online that it was slightly racy and to be prepared for brief male nudity. Ha, we were sold.
We decided to get to the Sydney Harbour where there Opera House is located a bit early to snap some pics of us “dressed up” (hair down and blue jeans on). Sydney Harbour also is home to the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge, so we couldn’t resist getting some pics with it in the background. We then went to the Opera Bar and sat outside and each had a few glasses of Rosé.
The show was fantastic! We were in the 3rd row right in front of the runway-type stage and the performers were incredible. It was not the giant production like a Vegas Cirque show, but in that way, it seemed even more dangerous. The show was full of daring acrobatic moves and, as promised, a bit of nudity. At one point, one of the male performers approached Kerry and danced on her a bit, leaving some sweat behind and 2 hysterically laughing, slightly intoxicated girls.
We ended the evening at a speakeasy type of bar called the Swinging Cat. We shared a charcuterie platter and a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc (because we clearly needed more alcohol). It was a great evening and we felt super lucky to get to see a show in such a famous place as the Sydney Opera House!
The next morning, we woke up (wearily) bright and early to catch our shuttle bus for our tour of the Blue Mountains. We only had to walk half a block to the meeting point, where we met our tour guide, Adam, owner of the small local tour company called Barefoot Downunder. The tour promised to be a smaller group, under 2o people, and take us on a really cool hike, as well as to typical tourist locations for pictures. The hour and a half (or so) drive out of Sydney was slightly rough (no fault of the tour company whatsoever) since we were rather hungover and thought at the time that we’d rather be on a beach being lazy. But here we were, being promised a 3 hour hike that no other tour company from Sydney takes people on…lucky us?!
He first took us to see some kangaroos, which were really cute, but we opted to not exit the shuttle bus because the only one near us was a male and honestly…he kinda looked scary! Then we got to the entrance of the National Pass Hike in the Blue Mountains. We unloaded and set off on the hike, walking alongside Adam and getting to know more about him and his company that he and his wife started. We thoroughly enjoyed our time on the hike, learning about tons of species of trees and plants surrounding us (Adam majored in horticulture at university), and saw about 10 awesome waterfalls along the way. We also sweated out tons of booze walking up about 1,000 stairs (not exaggerating).
Then we drove into Leura, a quaint town in the mountains. Here, people had the option of buying lunch in one of the many cafes, but we had packed a lunch, so we enjoyed it on some grass in the shade. We were ravenously hungry, and our lunch of salami, cheese, crackers, fruit, hummus and carrots hit the spot!
Adam took us next to see the famous “Three Sisters” rocks, and we also learned to play the didgeridoo. When we had first heard this word, we thought it was going to be some game, but it wasn’t a game. It was a long wooden tube-like wind instrument that you blow into and for us non-professionals, some oddly terrible sounds came out. Adam played one and it sounded really cool though.
We went to several different lookout points, including Pulpit Rock Lookout. The views of the mountains and canyons were stunning! We snapped some cute pics near cliff edges.
The trip ended back in Sydney, where we all had a drink (included in the tour!) together and mingled with Adam and the other day trippers. The bar was called Side Bar, which coincidentally was located within our hostel! We were wiped by the end of the day, but oh so glad that we had selected this particular tour of the Blue Mountains. In the end, we didn’t need another beach day…since FIJI was up next on our agenda!
~Jenny & Kerry
Our first order of business upon arrival in Australia was to visit some beaches. We had read and heard a lot about different beaches in Sydney and we were eager to see them all and work on our tans. Some of the top beaches we had heard about were Manly Beach, Bondi Beach and Coogee Beach. Each had their pros and cons and we were determined to experience them ourselves.
Once we arrived in Sydney we settled into our hostel in the CBD and prepared for the next few days. We met our roommates and started talking to them about things to see and do in the city. After asking if they had tried any of the beaches in town, we were told that Manly Beach was the best bet. So the decision was made to spend our first full day at the beach.
On Sunday we got up and headed out to see Manly Beach. It required a train ride down to the wharf and then a ferry ride over to another part of town.Typically this could add up on costs, but since we had our Opal cards for transportation, our max charge for the day was a whopping $2.50. After a 30-45 minute ferry ride, we arrived at our destination and wandered through an adorable town full of restaurants and shops to arrive at the beach.
Given that it was a bargain transportation day, the summer AND a Sunday, the beach was extremely crowded. However, it was beautiful, full of great people watching and had killer waves. We spent several hours at the beach reading, playing in the surf, watching the tourists and locals, reapplying sunscreen and even watching an ad hoc air show!
The next day we tried out a Coastal Walk that our guidebook had suggested. This is a walk that is 6km and works its way down the coast, starting at Bondi Beach and ending at Coogee Beach. Once again, we put public transportation to use to get to our starting point (this is one of our favorite things about big cities… we cannot say enough about our love for great public transportation!)
We started at Bondi Beach and figured the best thing to do would be to really experience the beach by laying out and tanning. The downfall of this was that we did not want to get off our butts, put on tennis shoes and start walking up a cliff. After about 2 hours we talked ourselves into continuing on and headed out to start our walk.
We headed up some cliffs and got great views of Bondi Beach from afar, as well as stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. We continued onwards and saw Tamarama beach, which was incredible, but we talked ourselves out of another 2 hour detour and ventured onwards. Our next stop was Bronte Beach where we had lunch and another tanning detour. Our lunch was an elegant tapas platter that we packed in our backpacks… salami, cheese, crackers, carrots and hummus! Once we were re-hydrated and stuffed with tasty snacks, we checked out Bronte Beach. Our favorite part about this beach was that there was a part of the beach that was blocked off by rocks and formed a natural swimming area that was safe from the waves. It was really difficult to walk away from this beach and continue on our journey, but we did it so we could see the infamous Coogee Beach that was located at the end of the walk.
The Coastal Walk has taken a slight detour in the past year due to storms, so we actually had a detour away from the beach and through an old cemetery that was quite eerie yet beautiful. We passed another swimming pool/beach, walked up what seemed to be never-ending stairs, then walked/hiked up a giant hill, then complained a lot about how we were never going to walk again, then kept walking.
Finally we arrived at Coogee Beach. It was a larger beach and pretty full of people, with plenty of amenities close by, though it was far from our favorite beach along the hike. We partly wished we had stayed back at Bronte and spent the rest of the day there, however we felt accomplished to finish the entire walk. We stayed at Coogee for awhile until the sun started to set and our skin was over it all.
The good news is that we were only 2 days into our visit to Sydney and still had a lot more to see and do. Until next time…
~ Kerry & Jenny