This is Saigon

It’s always hard to know where to start back after a break…

We had an amazing time in Vietnam; it felt so good to be back in a place I loved so much the first time around! We had 2 weeks over there, with our time split between Saigon, Hoi An and Hanoi. I have plenty to write about, and lots of gorgeous shots to show you.

For now, though, I wanted to just share this one image. One of my favourites from the trip. The one that sums up Saigon perfectly for me. It’s a city that’s both laid back and lazy, and frenetic and fast paced. People seem to be either rushing around, hellbent on getting to wherever they’re going right now, or sitting back and watching the world go by without a care in the world. One of the many reasons why I love this city ever so much…

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Photo Journal: Port Arthur Historic Site, Tasmania

Australia was basically founded as one big convict colony island. Despite the fact that we’re a really quite a young country, there really aren’t many (any?) places left where you can see that side of our history.

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From the website, “The Port Arthur penal settlement began life as a small timber station in 1830. Originally designed as a replacement for the recently closed timber camp at Birches Bay, Port Arthur quickly grew in importance within the penal system of the colonies.”

And who was shipped off to Port Arthur?
“After the American War of Independence Britain could no longer send her convicts to America, so after 1788 they were transported to the Australian colonies…. The convicts sent to Van Diemen’s Land were most likely to be poor young people from rural areas or from the slums of big cities. One in five was a woman. Numbers of children were also transported with their parents. Few returned home.”

And walking through the remains of the colony, from the prison building itself to the church, the asylum, the staff and family housing and the beautiful gardens, you start to get a real sense of how different things were for the convicts as opposed to the officers. Looking out over Carnarvon Bay, it was honestly one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to. It must have been such a bittersweet feeling, arriving into this picture-perfect place, knowing that you’d most likely never see freedom again.

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You can read about the rest of the history on the website, but the thing that really surprised me about the site was just how beautiful it was; I had no idea. It’s been really well looked after and restored, but even if it had been left to fall to ruins, the stunning natural setting is something else, particularly in Autumn when the sun is still shining and the leaves are turning…

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Photo Journal: Tasmanian road trip – Hobart to Port Arthur

I decided to go with a bit of a theme for the next week; Port Arthur.

Unfortunately, Port Arthur gained attention for all the wrong reasons 20 years ago, in 1996, as the site of Australia’s worst massacre. For personal reasons, that’s not something I want to write about… Instead, I want to talk about what Port Arthur should be known for; it’s one of the absolute most stunning places I’ve ever seen, and the site of one of Australia’s best-kept convict colonies.

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More of that soon, but first we have to get there! We drove from Hobart, which is only about a 90 minute drive, but we decided to drag it out and stop off at as many sweet little towns as possible on the way  : )

We had quite a few stops, including…

Sorell
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Forcett

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Copping
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Bream Creek
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The Federation Chocolate Factory (!!!)

Pirate’s Bay

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Tasman Arch and the blow hole
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Honestly, this was one of the best parts of the trip. Having the car meant that we got to stop off whenever we wanted. Any beautiful photo op we noticed (and there were a HEAP of those!), we pulled over and captured it. Any beautiful scene we drove through, we stopped to enjoy it. Yes, you can absolutely get there quickly; hell, you can even do it as a day trip from Hobart if you want, but why would you when you can take the slow path and enjoy every step?!

Photo Journal: Tasmanian road trip – Kingston, Margate and Snug

The great thing about Tasmania being so small is that it’s really east to get around and explore  : )

While we were there, we hired a car, and with no real plans, we spent some time just driving and exploring. One of our trips took us out from Hobart to Kingston, Margate and Snug, all beautiful, peaceful coastal towns and within very easy driving distance of Hobart. We were also blessed with beautiful, sunny weather, which made for a perfect afternoon out on the road! As I’m getting ready to go back to work for the week, I’ll be thinking of road tripping, instead…

 

Kingston

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Margate

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Snug

Photo Journal: Shibuya Crossing, Tokyo

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I’m going to end the week with a short and sweet post; a look at Shibuya’s mental and world famous crossing. Because, honestly, that’s what my brain feels like right now!

Big thank you to the wonderful friend who recommended heading up to Starbucks for a better view of the mayhem – absolutely the best view you can find!

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Photo Journal: Doorways of Tokyo

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Monday morning. Bleh. You’re meant to feel well rested and ready to take on the week on Monday mornings; as I type this on Sunday night, I know that’s probably not gonna be the case.

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The past few weeks have been a little stressful. Mum and dad have been travelling (yes, I’m one of those kids who worry about their parents). We had Christmas. A sibling struggling with her health. Trying to do the work of three people alone (in an unexpectedly busy period) while the others took annual leave. Adjusting to some new medication. A few migraines. Lots of social engagements. Health issues. A seemingly never ending to do list. And it all came to a head this week, the busiest one I’ve had in recent memory. I’m spent.

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After spending the morning on the road, checking out Anglesea’s Riverside Market, enjoying some tea in the sunshine, and celebrating my beautiful little niece’s birthday, the washing and dishes are now done, house tidied up, dinner (and lunch leftovers) cooked, and I’m kicking back with a pile of travel magazines by my side to flick through after I’ve written this.

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Following a (just) stifled anxiety attack earlier today, I got to thinking about the things that calm me. Reading, writing, scrolling through the Instagram feeds that inspire me, taking photographs, being in new places, visiting chaotic markets, travelling… Funny that an anxious introvert finds so much comfort in foreign, often busy places. I thought of the last trip, to Tokyo, which was so good for me.

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Walking around, alone, with just my camera and my thoughts was relaxing, therapeutic. And some of the photos I most enjoy taking when I’m travelling are of doorways.

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I love the idea that I have no idea what lies behind them; the possibilities of the stories contained within are endless. And, as the owner of a fairly active imagination, that fascinates me..

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But today, it’s Monday again. I’ve got home made okonomiyaki for lunch and 73 sleeps until my next adventure. Sometimes busy gets uncomfortable, but that’s what life is all about. It’s about being busy and uncomfortable and stressed and overwhelmed, but also about the opportunity to learn and imagine and discover, to find your own peace and joy in amongst the mayhem. And I’m grateful for the chance to prove myself worthy of it every morning 🙂 Happy Monday! xo

The Leaning Tower of Pisa – actually, it’s just the bell tower

So, my mum and dad are flying off to Europe today! I’m so, so excited for them – they are the hardest working, kindest, most generous people I’ll ever know. All of the time and energy goes into looking after us girls, into looking after their parents, into making other peoples’ lives better and easier. We may clash sometimes, especially mum and I (as mothers and daughters so often do), but I have nothing but love and respect for them both, and couldn’t be happier that they are FINALLY taking this trip they’ve been talking about for so long! In honour of this trip, I’m throwing it back to 2013 and my second visit to Pisa…

6.36Little known fact: the Leaning Tower of Pisa was never meant to be the main attraction in Pisa, even before it developed its current gangster lean (and it seriously is leaning – having walked up it twice, the spiral staircase you climb to the top seriously screws with your head – you literally lean against the inner and outer walls as you climb, the lean is that severe). The headliner was actually meant to be the piazza and cathedral, below, il Duomo di Pisa. The Leaning Tower is actually “just” the cathedral’s bell tower. Or at least it was until it started leaning on it’s crappy 1173 built foundation, making it a bigger draw card than the cathedral and piazza themselves…

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While we’re at it, I’m gonna do a few more travel throwbacks this week, so I’ll see you tomorrow in Thailand 🙂