2014-11-13

2 years ago...

Two years ago, I was on a beach in Queensland, north of Cairn, camera ready to shoot at one of the most amazing spectacles of Mother Nature: a solar eclipse. It was not my first time in Australia, but it was the beginning of the Journey, the one defining experience of my life, and from the moment I stepped out of the plane, my head was set for a full on discovery of the world around me, and what better experience to begin this adventure than seeing, along with a beach full of people, the marriage of the Moon and Sun?

One year ago, I was on my second road trip to New Zealand, this time driving our way from North to South. We were actually just arriving on the Southern Island, visiting wineries on the road to Abel Tasman National Park, where one of my many firsts was waiting for me: the next day there was to be a parachute with my name on it.
This year, I will be celebrating my fifth month living in London. When I came back to Paris after 14 months of travelling, I quickly realized that, even though my social life was thriving, Paris was no longer enough for me. The world was my oyster, I needed to live outside of the city that I grew up in and that I still loved. I needed to find again the thrill experiencing living abroad. At first, the idea of going back for another year of working holiday visa in New Zealand was reassuring, but I figured that I needed to find a real job in Europe first before trying to move back in that part of the world.

What would have happened had I gone back? I have no clue. I might have worked in a winery like so many backpackers, I might have tried to find a real job, that would only have lasted six months due to the visa restrictions. I would definitely have come back to Australia, and done what I missed out the first time. I would most certainly have travelled to the Philippines, which have been on my To Do List for quite a while now. In an ideal world, I would have found the perfect job in New Zealand; got a working visa, planned my next five years in the Long White Cloud, learning how to navigate a boat around the coastline of this wonderful country, and finally would have found my place under the sun of Australia. That would have been a good plan, but only in an ideal world.

I love living in London, for so many reasons. First of all, obviously, people here speak English most of the time, and I have always loved hearing and talking in English. It’s actually more than love. I’ve always told myself that I was born in the wrong language. When I speak English, I am another version of myself. I dream in English, think in English my most crazy thoughts and fantasies. Second of all, people kept telling me about all the events, but I would never have imagined being blown away that much. Up until now, there hasn’t been a month without a theatre matinee, with big names on the scene (Martin Freeman, Kristin Scott Thomas, James McAvoy, Ralph Fiennes…). And even when there is no theatre, it is impossible to stay idle, if you don’t want to spend your weekend on the couch.

London is a fascinating city, both historical and modern, both cultural and fun, and living in the city centre – I found a place in London Bridge – just makes it so easy to make the most of it.

2014-10-01

My 300 days of Summer

After these holidays in Bali and Northern Territory, I can officially say that my 300 days of Summer are over. So what happened between then and now? And most importantly, what happens now?

What happened after I left?
Well, after a non motivating job in Paris, I finally decided that it was time for me to make the move, and I now live in London. It is great, I enjoy living in this city as much as I enjoyed visiting it, especially since my appartment is really central
I know that I would never have made that move if I hadn't spent a year in Australia. I would have longed for it, but never achieved it, probably because my will would not have been as strong.

What happens now?
Well I don't know. Of course I don't know the future! But these few days in Australia made me realize that I am nowhere as happy as I am in Australia. This is now my goal: trying to find a way to live in this part of the world that is so amazing. And I also want to do another RTW trip for my 35th year, but this time, I want to really take the time to enjoy every country to the fullest, and that means using the whole length of the tourist visa, everywhere I go.

So a lot of projects are piling up, and I hope I will be able to do all of them.

2014-09-14

TNT 2.0

Remember TNT? Well this time I took the time to explore Litchfield and Kakadu National Parks, "explore" being a bit vain when I had only a day for each of them...

Litchfield
Litchfield is a short drive away from Darwin, and it almost stands as Darwinians backyard. I would definitely recommend NOT going there on the weekend as it is packed with Australians enjoying the plunge pools.
After being picked up by the bus at around 7:15 AM, we arrived at Florence Falls early enough to enjoy it with not as many people as usual. The water is really refreshing, and there are plenty of space to jump and quite simply have fun. In the Dry, the falls are still going strong, but not enough to be dangerous, which is great.

You can reach the plunge hole through two paths, the stairway, and the shady creek walk, an easy walk that lets you enjoy the surrounding flora.
and the very very clear water
After that, we went to Tolmer Falls, which is now closed to visitors in order to protect horseshoe bats that have chosen the caves nearby as their natural habitat. From the lookout, you can still imagine how lovely it would have been to plunge in that hole...

Then, after a buffet lunch, we headed to Wangi for another dip in the hole. This time, you can see that the Dry has taken its toll, as the falls are getting thinner
Apparently, some fresh water crocs live there as well, but as they are very weary of humans, we didn't see any.

After a long and enjoyable swim, we got to stop to the termite mounds that are actually quite spectacular.

Then we headed back to Darwin, and as it was Thursday, some of the group, me included, were dropped off at the Mindil Sunset Market. There, you can enjoy food from the 5 continents, and eat it while watching the sun setting on the red horizon of Darwin.

Apparently, we were very lucky, as we were blessed with playful dolphins showing off their jumping skills for us.

Kakadu Nation Park
Kakadu is definitely deserving more than a day tour, as the day was packed with things to do and we only scratched the surface. It is interesting, and famous, for both indigenous flora and fauna and aboriginal culture. The park is a World Heritage, and is mainly run by the aboriginal clans from the regions. Apparently, there is a multi party council including aboriginal head of clans, department of Conservation representatives and industrial representatives that decide what needs to be done with the park, as it also harbours a Uranium Mine in its heart.

It is a 2h30 drive to the entrance of the park, and it is so vast that you spend quite a lot of time behind the wheel. After being picked up at 6 AM, our first stop was the most famous art galleries in the park.
the lightning creator

Keep in mind that these painting were like schools for the aboriginal clans, where they shared their culture, knowledge and legends from the Dream Time. Apart from the painting themselves, the most appealing part of these galleries is that they are in places that are always protected from the sun, so they are quite refreshing places to be, and with no flies, which is always a relief.

After a quick buffet lunch, we then headed to our cruise on the Yellow Water Billabong, where we spotted a lot of birds, and two crocs!

While waiting for the people who chose to do a flight tour, we headed to the aboriginal cultural center, and then back to Darwin. It may seem like a very short trip, but we went back at around 8 PM, just to give you an idea of the distances. Now you understand why we only scratched the surface of the 20 000+ km² National Park...

And that was it - for now - for the Northern Territory. I still need to cruise or kayak in the Katherine Gorges, but I really tried to make the most of my time there.

See you in a while, crocodiles! (sorry, I just needed to make that joke...)

2014-09-10

Beautiful Bali

Yes, Bali is the island of "Gods, that's beautiful!". It is so small, but so packed with wonderful sceneries and amazing things to do, that you could spend a month there without being bored. Unfortunately, I only had a week, so I had to wisely choose what I wanted to do. At first, my plan was to do a road trip to connect all the dots below:

Fortunately, learning from my year long experience, I didn't plan anything more than my first two nights in Ubud. And from Ubud, you can basically connect all the dots, so that's what I did.

Day 1
I arrived late on day one, 2h30 from Darwin, but on day 2, where I could walk around Ubud, I managed to plan nearly all the things I wanted to see. Mawar, the homestay manager I was staying with, gave me the contact of a chauffeur to see Taman Ayun and Tanah Lot, and after a short walk, I had already booked my sunrise trek to Mount Batur. But let's do things in order.

Day 2
So I was saying, after arranging things with Mawar, I walked on the main street of Ubud, to see Ubud Saraswati, the Water Palace

and then the Royal Palace not too short a distance away. After I came back, my chauffeur took me first to Taman Ayun, then Tanah Lot.
Taman Ayun is a nice little temple that, like most temples in Bali, you can't see the core of, so there is a path when you walk around the temple. When I was there, there was apparently some construction to make the park around more pleasant. Be careful though, the path around has a wall, as as a 155 cm person, that was kind of hard to see the whole picture.
Anyone taller than me should be fine, though...

As for Tanah Lot, I was pleasantly surprised, as I was expecting an artificial temple just set for tourists, which it is, but the surroundings makes it worth a visit, especially NOT during the sunset. Go there in the morning or early afternoon, as it is less busy, and with the low tide, you can actually get close to the foot of the rock.


Day 3
Day 3 was the sunrise trek of Mount Batur, that you can do from Ubud, provided you are ready to get up at 2 AM. The ascension lasts around 2h, and like any other volcano trekking, can be a bit difficult, particularly in the end, but the scenery at your feet and the sun rising makes it all worth it.
you can actually see Lombok on the horizon

On the way back, the chauffeur got us through the Tagallalang rice terraces. They were really nice, cascading right in front of the village - and honestly, rice terraces abound in Bali, and not just in the places you have to pay to see them, so you will have your fill of rice terraces by the end of your trip.
Back in Ubud at 10 AM, I followed the advice of the french couple we did the ascension with and took an hour of Balinese massage at Lily Spa, on Bisman Street.
After some good relaxation, good food, and good shopping at the Ubud market, I finished the day with a Dance show at the Ubud Palace. This is a very special experience, even when you are lacking knowledge on what the story is about and how it is expressed through dancing. The female dancers were particularly graceful and expressive.

Day 4
Today was the part with Jatiluwih and Lake Bratan temple.
7 km before arriving at the rice terraces, you suddenly see that majestic mountain facing you, and then you arrive at this wonderful place where all you can see is the green of paddy fields. This is the paradise of panoramic photography, as the scenery is just too much for a simple picture.

Be careful, the locals are a bit weary of tourists, so make sure that you disturb them as little as possible.
Then we went on to Bedugul, and more specifically Ulun Danu Bratan.
I was a bit disappointed, not by the size of it - I expected it to be small, but it was still worth a detour - but by the crowd there. There is a lot of tourists, probably as much as Tanah Lot, but at least at Tanah Lot you have enough room to move around without bumping into other tourists.

On the way back to Ubud, keep your camera handy, as the scenery is really beautiful. Actually, that is some advice that you should always keep in mind. As I said in the introduction, everything is beautiful in Bali, and not just the parts you have to pay to see, so always keep your camera close.

Day 5
After my goodbyes to Mawar and his family, my chauffeur took me to Besakih to see the Mother Temple. Be careful, as it is on the way to the Kintamani geopark, you might be stopped for money at the entrance. Just say that you are not going to the geopark, and you should be fine.
I was warned about Besakih, and my chauffeur also briefed me before dropping me off, but in this temple, unlike any other temple I went to, Balinese people see this place as a cash machine from tourists. First, even if you are decently clothed, you will have to rent a Sarung, which in my case wasn't even a Sarung, just an ugly wool scarf for 20000 Rp. Then, at the first stop point, one guy takes your ticket and asks for a donation. Of course, he has a book with supposedly previous visitors and the amount they "donated", which is usually around 300 000 Rp. I only gave 60 000 and it was ok. Then, a girl shoves into your hands offerings, saying that you cannot enter the temple without it, and it is supposed to cost 100 000 Rp. I gave them back and was still ok. Then a guy came up to me and said: "I'm not a guide, I'm a guardian, you cannot enter without me", but I politely declined - without too much eye contact, and went on my way. Once I entered the temple, another guy said the same thing, and told me that previous tourists gave him 5 euros. I said I only had 20 000 Rp, and he was ok with it. After a half hearted explanation about the temple, he left on the main square, told me that from there I could go wherever I wanted, which was not true, as I got kicked out of one part of the square where people were supposed to be praying but were in fact only socializing. After that, I didn't want to explore that much, even though the temple is huge and has a lot to offer.
So I'm not sure what to advise you. Going on a tour with a real guide that can tell you and show you everything you need might be a good option, but you will be surrounded by more tourists than locals. As for the hour of the day to go, I went in the early morning, which was nice because the "guardians" were not as aggressive as they can be by the end of the day, but the sunlight is against you, so again, choose wisely considering what you want to see.
After this, we took the road to Amed. I usually never go to TripAdvisor, because I want to have my own opinion and discover my own places, and surely, make my own mistakes. But this time, I made an exception, because I wanted to choose the best diving center in Amed, and I'm so glad I did. I chose Adventure Dives, which is number one on TripAdvisor for a reason. First of all, it is not right at the entrance of Amed, so you can avoid all those touristy places that are an easy choice when you don't want to drive too much. And yet it was central enough to have delicious Warung not too far away, and good hotels as well. When I arrived, I didn't know in which hotel I would stay, but I knew which dive I wanted to do.
So basically I arrived at the dive center, and I was immediately greeted by Lisa, the owner, who treated me like a long lost friend. I was able to book the early morning dive to the USAT Liberty, which was my goal for Amed, and she also directed me to nice places to eat. Lucky for me, the hotel across the street from the center only had one villa left, and it was 1. the best one, that is to say the one closest to the pool AND the sea, and 2. in my price range, that is 250 000 Rp per night.
So after a late lunch at one of the Warungs that Lisa recommended, I spent some quality time with the infinity pool
Then with the sunset


Day 6
After waking up at 4:50 AM - I definitely woke up at weird hours during this trip - David, manager of Adventure Dive and his dive masters took us on the bus to Tulamben for the two dives on the USAT Liberty.
No need to tell you that it was amazing. On the first dive we dove around the ship and the second dive was more about exploring inside the ship, which meant diving in small spaces which is always pretty cool.
from Google Images, I didn't have any camera, unfortunately

Of course, it is so amazing and so easy a dive that it gets very busy. By the end of the second dive, there was a forest of plastic fins all around us, and you then understand why Adventure Dive goes in the early morning.
Bumper head fished, also from Google Images

When we came back, a complimentary early lunch was waiting for us, and it was then time to socialize. Lisa and David arranged this space at the Dive Center where everyone meets up and talk about their experience. It is so comfy that even though I lived across the street, I wouldn't leave. That's how I met this American blogger, Young Adventuress, and this Australian traveller, another woman travelling on her own, just like me, who quickly became my dinner partner for the next two nights.
So after arranging for some other dives the next day, I got changed and we went to Sails, a very nice restaurant with a view of a secluded bay just outside of Amed. Very good food and they pick you up and drop you off.

Day 7
After awakening at a normal hour this time, we again took the bus to Tulamben, this time to see the drop-off and the Coral Garden, two beautiful dives. The Coral Garden in particular was amazing, as I wasn't expecting to see a Buddha statue underwater! (To be honest, there also were some tyres, so it wasn't all that perfect)
Again from Google Images
After the complimentary lunch, which was a delicious curry soup, I just had time to get change before going to La Griya with my newly found dinner partner, where we enjoyed the pool
The rooftop bar
And the delicious restaurant!

Day 8
Today was the last day, but I intended to make most of it. AS it takes roughly 3h to go from Amed to the airport, I decided to wake up before sunrise to snorkel one last time in the bay. As I couldn't take picture of the Coral Garden in Tulamben, I really wanted to see the small temple that was accessible from the beach. And I was not disappointed, even though it's not as cool as the one in Tulamben.

Besides, it was really nice to see the sunrise from the sea.

And that was it for Bali. It was really in a nutshell, and I'm pretty sure there are loads more to see and do. In Ubud itself, I could have taken a yoga class, a cooking class, a jewellery making class... I could have done plenty of other dives, could have explored the west... So the good thing is, I leave plenty of stuff to do for when I come back!

One last piece of advice. If you are like me and never print your e-ticket because there's never any need for it, be careful, as at the airport, security checks e-tickets (not passports) before check in, which in my opinion is pretty stupid, but that's the way it is. I got away because thankfully they have wifi (they have wifi everywhere, in Bali) and I could show the guard the confirmation email, which as we will all agree has no value per se, but he was happy with it and I could go on with the actual check in.

I know that there are many of you out there who spent more than a week in Bali. What was your itinerary? What was your favorite place?

2014-02-03

My year of Travelling

I recently went across this TED Talk about how a woman went on a journey of self discovery through TED talks, and I realized how much of her activities are what I've been doing through travelling.
Fun fact: she started her activities on November 1st 2011, mine on the same date in 2012.
She exposes 5 big categories, with several activities in each categories.

The first set of activities were:
  • Better listening: when you travel, you have to open your ears, and your mind, to other people's stories, either from fellow travellers or from locals, and try to listen carefully so that you can actually learn from them.
  • Asian Diet: well, I did the Asian diet in March when I did the Asia in a nutshell tour, and that's true, you eat so much better, with less fat and a variety of veggies. What I appreciated the most was to try every local specialty, and this too helps you open your mind, because if you're adventurous enough to taste something new, your mindset is right to experience something new.
  • Less Meat: well, I'm not really proud of this one, but I had to go through it because I was poor. It was when I was working in winter in Ultima, and it turned out to be the moment of my year of travelling when I was the thinnest, but I don't know if it's because I didn't have money for meat or because I ate only twice a day. But eating less meat, or eating twice a day, is also a manner of adjusting your diet to your amount of daily activities. Since I wasn't doing any physical activities at that time, I ate much less, but didn't feel weak. Of course, when I came back in Ultima during the holiday season, my dear locals kept feeding me and all my good resolutions melted in front of such delicious roasted meats...
  • Remembering: When you travel a lot and meet a lot of different people, I think it's important to remember them, their stories and their names. Remembering comes with better listening, and helps you learn from other people's experience.
The second category had the following activities
  1. For Neil Pasricha, attitude is to choose to move on instead of grieving after some low in your life. That's what I did when I decided to travel for a year, but it's not just a decision you take when you're sad, it's a decision you take every day of your life, when you decide to look at the good things that are in your life. Just walking down a street, looking up and smiling because you are exactly where you want to be, where you chose to be, among people who appreciate you for who you are. For me, that's the right attitude.
  2. Awareness is for Neil Pasricha to embrace the 3-year-old inside of you that sees the world for the first time. For me, it's the counterpart of better listening, it's better seeing. Seeing all the beauty of the world, the beauty of the open horizon from huge paddocks, of strangers that will look after you for no other reason than the fact that they're scared you'd get stranded, the beauty of something unique as much as the beauty of something common, the beauty of a place you discover for the first time as much as the beauty of a place you know so well.
  3. Authenticity is "being you and being cool with that". I couldn't agree more. I used to look acceptance in the eyes of others when really, what I needed was to find acceptance in my own eyes. I recently talked about it with one of my best friends, telling her that when I was with her and my closest friends, I was always thinking "wow, my friends are so cool to love the screwed-up I am", and she said that it was because I didn't love myself, and was admiring them instead of loving them too, and realizing how screwed up they also were (and probably why we love each other so much). Travelling a year put me out of my comfort zone, and made me realize that I may be screwed-up, but I'm wrong in all the right ways, and I should love myself for that. Of course, the eyes of the friends I made on the journey helped, because why would such extraordinary people love me if I wasn't extraordinary either? You just have to realize how special and uncommon you are.
  • Slowing down: when you travel for a year, you can either choose to see everything you can in the little amount of time you have (which, again, I did in the Asia in a nutshell tour), or you can decide to slow down and enjoy the place you are right now. That's what I did in Western Australia, especially in Exmouth, and that's why I have such a fond memory of this place. I didn't have anything to do, except feed myself and enjoy the beautiful weather. I kept myself busy at a very slow pace, reading all the books I wanted to read, volunteering at a local festival, and taking in the extraordinary surroundings. I also took time to connect with people that were only staying for a night or two, and met a lot of different people, with one common thing: an awesome, fully lived life.
  • Simplicity: When you live out of a suitcase for a year, you have to have simpler needs. I used to live comfortably, buying stuff and not minding if I had to throw them away or leave them somewhere. Now I realize that I don't need stuff to live comfortably, and that actually puts more value in the things that I own. First, because I had to think twice before spending my money on them, and second, because they've been with me all along on my travels.
  • More Happiness: for me, more happiness is so close to having a positive attitude that I'm not going to tell you again, but basically, the 3 As lead you to an awesome life, and thus to more happiness.
  • Vulnerability: wow that was for me one of the most important component of my life, for 2 main reasons:
  1. First, I am very vulnerable to other people's opinion. And as I revealed in Half a life ago, I was very focused on changing myself, but without focusing on the maybe too big importance I gave to other people's love of me, so I also had to work on that
  2. Second, while connecting with and loving new people along the way, I made myself more vulnerable, because loving someone almost always exposes you to vulnerability. You get out of your comfort zone to connect with them, and thus exposing your heart to rejection or indifference. And you also become so vulnerable when eventually you are the one who has to leave. But exposing yourself to vulnerability actually makes you stronger, as if it would build a crust of experience around your vulnerable heart, still passing through love and compassion, but making it easier to go out there and connect with the world
Dunn then talked about wearing nothing new for a month, which is basically what I did for a year, not with second hand clothes (even though I had to buy second hand polar vests during the hardest of winter), but with my own clothes, reusing them again and again, and that's when you realize how amazing good clothes are, that they can endure such treatment, 50+ laundries and tumble dry, without aging so much.

The next category was about her relationship with others
  • Thanks, praise and mindfulness (by telling people how special they are): yes, sometimes, some of us don't think about expressing how we feel, failing to realize that if you don't express anything, people, who don't read minds, will never know about it. So that is something I forced myself to do, not forcing praise or thanks, but forcing myself to express them. That's why I would say how much I would miss a friend during a departure, why I would express my admiration over someone I hold dearly in my heart, and why I would ask them how they feel in return. You soon realize that actually also pushes you to live every moment to the fullest with the people you love.
  • Preconceptions: for me, preconceptions are born from a lack of open mindedness, but also from generalization. You meet a person from place A, they have that kind of behavior, so you think everyone from A is like that. That's preconception, that's how hate, any kind of hate, is born.
  • Letters: I am fundamentally an email and chat person. When I left, some of my friends told me that it wouldn't change that much because we mainly speak via gtalk. So when I decided to send postcards for my closest friends' birthdays, I nearly had a writer's blank. But then I soon found out that a handwritten personal touch was more powerful than emails, especially coming from the other side of the world. People were more touched by the gesture, but it didn't have just an impact on them, it also had an impact on myself. Writing email is easy, you don't really have to think about it, because you can erase it. Even though you still need to put yourself in the receiver's head to try to know how they would react with just the words and not the expression on your face or in your voice. Writing a letter is the same work, plus, what you write needs to be thought before you use your pen, which is an exercise that can lead you to actually think before you talk.
  • Compassion (and being less judgemental): Being compassionate and less judgemental all comes down to the same open-mindedness you acquire with good listening. When you meet so many people, so different from you, you cannot keep on judging them, or comparing them to your own way of living. After a while you realize the context and their circumstances, and after a longer while, you don't judge people anymore. Even the ones that are judgemental. You can express your own opinion, and tell them that being judgemental is not the solution to their problems, and give constructed arguments why you think that way, but you yourself shouldn't try and make them think like you, because maybe they have circumstances, or lack of education or experience that make them think that way. And maybe even your way of thinking is lacking some things. For me, if you start judging people, that should forbid you to try and convince them, because who are you to do it? So never judge anyone, because anyone could judge you.

Dunn's last category had to do with her relationship with herself. For me, travelling on my own gave me a sense of drive, of motivation, of purpose, of goal to achieve. It also gives you an insight on your leadership style, because when you meet so many people, you compare yourself to others, and learn so much about yourself. I might never be the leader of the pack, but since I managed to take care of myself for a year, I led my own project, my own self through so many places and experiences, and that doesn't count for nothing. I also spent time analyzing my choices, and that helped me understand how I work and why sometimes I may be wrong. But it also helped me look at my regrets and worst decisions with a clear mind, all the decisions I let Life make for me. I now understand better the whys and left behind all the what-ifs. Learning from your own mistakes is quite empowering.
But comparing to Half a life ago, when I was so focused on changing that I didn't think enough about being myself, I now understand that the whole process takes time. Of course, I think I am aiming in the right direction, but a year is clearly too little to change who I am, and maybe changing myself is not the solution. Maybe the only thing I need is to fully accept who I am, and that, I know the year away changed it. Because it finally gave me a sense of balance. When you spend days having nothing to do, you need to make the efforts to actually do something, you need to think carefully about what you want to do. And it guides you to choose activities you really enjoy, because you're bound to spend a lot of time doing them. So it gave me balance in the sense that I got to decide what was a perfect day schedule, but it also helped me, once again, to learn more about myself.
So I'm probably not going to start a movement, nor going to present a TEDTalk, but if someone can relate, my job here is done. After all, the whole purpose of the blog is to make YOU want to begin this amazing adventure.
What is your insight?

2014-01-27

Project Australia

As promised on My Impossible List, I have made a movie of my cross country trip to Australia, New Zealand and a bit of Asia. Hope you enjoy watching the nearly six minutes of it as much as I enjoyed the long hours working on it!

Edit: if the "Insert video" doesn't seem to work, here's the link to the video.


2014-01-26

Photo of the Week - Te Ika-a-Maui

As my trip is coming to an end, I have decided to feature one picture that for me represents one month of travelling. 
This week's picture was taken in November from the Northern Island of New Zealand, Tongariro more specifically. As my last POTW post, I decided to go all out and feature a panorama.




This is one of the few pictures where there are Tongariro and Ngauruhoe together, with little to no cloud, so you can actually see the summits. Once again, it was so hard to choose, between the fumes of Rotorua, the geometry of Taranaki, and of course Tongariro. But, definitely, the Alpine Crossing was one of the highlights of November and the Northern Island.
What do you think?

2014-01-19

Photo of the Week - Te Waipounamu

As my trip is coming to an end, I have decided to feature one picture that for me represents one month of travelling. 
This week's picture was taken in October from Doubtful Sound.


Again, an excruciating choice, first to choose the most remarkable place I've seen in October, then to choose the best picture to describe it. This time, I focused on a moment rather than on the beauty of the picture. One of the most amazing things I've done in October was the overnight cruise to Doubtful Sound, and it was made even more exceptional by the fact that it wasn't pouring... So there we were, after seeing so many seals, and just before admiring the sunset, at the table enjoying delicious food and good company, when suddenly I lift my eyes and there I see the rainbow. As the boat was still moving toward our anchoring place, it only lasted 5 to 10 minutes, but with the light on the fiord it makes for a remarkable picture.
What do you think?

2014-01-16

I'm leaving...

This is the end... after the end of 2013 comes the end of my Working Holiday Visa in Australia. 
and what a grandiose way to end the year that was...

I'm leaving a country which is an island and a whole continent in itself, where the pigeons are pink (the funny galahs) or yellow and the native animals cannot be seen anywhere else... A country so vast that in one whole year, I only scratched the surface of what there is to see and experience... This was the country of utes and paddocks, of premix drinks and stubby holder, a country where Coriolis turns the other way...
But before going back to France, I'm leaving a place that has been for me home away from home, with beautiful people that I'm not sure I will see again...

A year ago, I was experiencing the first goodbyes, and now I have to brace myself for the last ones of this WHV. If I had known how hard it would be to leave, I would have worked the 88 days needed to renew the visa, and unless you already know that you only have the one year, I strongly recommend that you seize the second opportunity to stay in this incredible country.
I know that in a couple of weeks I will see again my old friends and my family, but somehow, it's not cheering me up right now. I have no idea what 2014 has in hold for me. As I am turning 31 this year, the plan would be to do another WHV in New Zealand, taking the time to spend on the places I liked the most, and maybe find a real job in the country... 
or learn how to run a vineyard

That would enable me to do all the travelling I couldn't do this year: Bali, the rest of Northern Territories, maybe even the Philippines... 

But I'm also keen on making my brain work again, and while I'm writing this article, I'm also applying for jobs, mostly in the UK because one thing I'm sure of, I need to speak english on a daily basis. I'm doing this because I don't know if 2 years away from the workforce will annihilate any thought I had about a career.

So, as Freddy Mercury sang, "the show must go on" and "whatever happens, I'll leave it all to chance".
And for today, I'll let you with this thought:

2014-01-12

Photo of the Week - Uluru

As my trip is coming to an end, I have decided to feature one picture that for me represents one month of travelling. 
July and August were spent working in Ultima. Things happened there, of course, and there are a lot of pretty pictures to prove it, but it was more a personal quest than a month of travelling. So, this week's picture was taken in September at Ayers Rock.



Well, I love this picture for obvious reasons. The colors are beautiful, enhancing the magnificence of the Rock, and with a moon to put all that into perspective. The shadow of the Earth on the horizon, the burning red of Uluru, no wonder this place is sacred. Every Australian told me I should have climbed it, and as it will probably be forbidden before long, I should have listened to them, but it's difficult to not feel disrespectful while walking on this natural wonder.
What do you think?

2014-01-05

Photo of the Week - Pinnacles

As my trip is coming to an end, I have decided to feature one picture that for me represents one month of travelling. 
This week's picture was taken in June from Pinnacles National Park, next to the little town of Cervantes.




For those who followed this blog from the beginning, you already know that June was mainly spent in Cervantes, which is a lovely place north of Perth. The coastline is pristine and the weather was neither cold nor warm for the beginning of winter. Several aboriginal stories run for this place, whether it's people clawing their way out, or warriors turned to stone during the day, all of them all kinds of creepy, and that is why you will rarely find an aboriginal on this land. But at sunset, it's really something to see.
What do you think?

2014-01-01

Happy New Year

Happy 2014 everyone!

Follow the link for my video of the Sydney New Year's Eve fireworks, enjoy!


I chose this song because as the night was falling, the whole harbour was flashing like a diamond in the sun