Wanderlusting

My mind lately has been very occupied by the thoughts of travelling. I think it’s safe to say that the travel bug has well and truly taken over me. I want to travel the world and experience the different cultures of far away countries. And thinking back, it’s funny to see this part of my life playing out this way. It’s not something that i’ve always wanted to do, it’s literally something that has started in only the last 3 or so years. You look back to the type of kid that I was 10, 15 years ago and you would have never have thought it. I remember being on a passenger ferry as a young child and I refused to have my feet touching the ground. I hated being on that damn ferry! I also hated being away from home and my family overnight. I dont think I went on a school camp until I was in year 7! And here I am today. Lets face it, these days, I spend so much time on cruise ships, that i may as well be living on one. And I hope for rough seas. The bigger the seas, the more fun and better.¬† And I travel 95% of my trips solo, by myself and not knowing a single person. Complete contrast to child me!

But what changed? I had vacationed within Australia before and it never brought out the passion to want to travel. But then I got my passport and went on my first cruise out of the country (to the South Pacific back in 2015), and my inner cruise spirit got awakened. I loved it! I loved it so much that I booked another cruise with a friend only 5 months later. It was to the same place, but I loved it all the same. I could do the things that I missed on the first trip. And then I went on another one with another friend only 2 months later. That time, to Papua New Guinea. I found that each cruise that I did, i got off loving it even more and needing more. Now it’s the beginning of 2019 and I’ve just finished my 12th cruise, and number 13 & 14 are planned for June. One of the reasons that I liked cruising (amongst other reasons) is because I didn’t have to fly. I could travel to places without having to set foot on a plane. However, there’s only so many places¬† you can cruise to from Brisbane (meaning I didn’t have to fly anywhere), and if I wanted to start seeing all my bucket-list places overseas, I was going to have to fly to different countries. So I started with baby steps and booked cruises from Sydney, and taking the 1.5hour flight down to Sydney. I did that a few times before deciding I was ready to try something bigger and better, and cruised from New Zealand. Flying 3 hours to Auckland to board a ship, I was pretty much a nervous wreck and had no idea what I was doing. It was my first international flight, and i was by myself. But it was that flight and adventure that really opened up my desire to want to travel more, and to conquer my fear of flying and to go see the world. Because if I could do that, then I could do anything. And now because of that, I’ve got a 14hour flight to Vancouver, Canada to cruise around Alaska in June! I think i’ve come a long way!

I said that one of the reasons i loved cruising, was because I could travel without flying. Well, if I’m willing to fly places to cruise, then that can’t really be one of the main reasons anymore! But aside from that, I’ll always love cruising for many other reasons. One being the convenience of it. Once you’ve paid for a cruise, you only have to worry about how much you’re drinking, and whatever you want to do on land! One price and your accommodation is paid for, your meals are paid for, your entertainment is paid for, you dont have to worry about how you’re getting back to where you’re staying after a few drinks at dinner (…well, that’s not always easy as all the hallways look the same when you’re sober, so when you’ve had a few drinks, it can be a littleee bit confusing trying to find your cabin! I may be talking from experience here ;)).

But the second reason, and probably more bigger of a reason the the first one, is the experience of it all. It’s not just a mode of transport to get to a location. I love being on the ship. I love being out on the ocean surrounded by nothing but water. You haven’t seen an amazing sunset until you’ve seen one from the middle of the ocean! I love falling asleep to the rocking of the ship. Some people hate the sea days because they’re on it only to get from A to B. Which is what I thought I’d be like on my first cruise. But after so many, i’ve realized that the experience of cruising is more than just getting to your destination. Sitting out on a quiet deck watching the sun set over the ocean and the sound of the ship pushing through the waves is the definition of serenity.

It obviously has it’s downsides, as you dont get to spend more than one day in a destination. So you’ll never get to see everything a place has to offer. And you’ll be going to tourist destinations, as opposed to finding places that are off the beaten track that the locals know. But you get to go to many different places in one trip, so if I find somewhere that I really love and want to explore more, then i’ll make sure I visit again, not on a cruise and really see what the place has to offer. And my thoughts on this have changed a lot lately. Not too long ago, my focus was more towards purely travelling and seeing the world by cruising. And while that’s something that I still want to do, i’ve realized that the words ‘vacation’ and ‘travel’ have two different meanings. Vacation can always include travel and travelling, but travelling doesn’t always mean ‘vacation’.

My guilty pleasure? Travel doco’s on Netflix. I love watching them and the more I watch them, the more I antsy I get to want to go travel the world. At the moment, i guess you can say my inspiration to want to do this, is a series called ‘Departures’. It’s 2 guys from Toronto who packed up and travelled the world in year. And it shows everything they went through, the good and the bads. This is what made me think about the difference between a vacation, and travelling the world. To me, a vacation is a cruise. Or staying in a resort. You know, lying by the pool, drinking cocktails. Going out for dinner in a restaurant where the chances of you getting food poisoning are low. Not having to worrying about anything. However travelling and seeing the world is not necessarily that. It’s seeing places for what they really are. Going to third world countries where you have to watch what you eat and drink. Where it might be a bit dangerous, or you wouldn’t go walking outside at night. Where it’s a whole different culture that you have absolutely no idea about and you really ‘relax’ the entire time. To some people, that’s not appealing. And up until about a year or so ago, it wasn’t something that I ever wanted to do. But lately I have realized it is actually what I want to do. And watching these travel doco’s have certainly inspired me into realizing this. To have adventure and see the world for what it really is. Cruising so much, i’ve met and stayed friends with many people from all over the world who would happily help me out if I was to ever venture into their neck of the woods. And travelling by yourself, that’s always a good thing to have!

To all you travellers, adventurers, people who have been all over the world, what inspired you to want to travel and be adventurous? Was it something that you always wanted to do, or like me, watching other peoples experiences??

If anyone wants any inspiration or enjoys a good travel doco, here are a few that i highly recommend on Netflix!

  • Departures
  • Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown
  • The kindness diaries

But, first things first, and that’s my upcoming adventures to Vancouver and Alaska! Only 74 more days, and I still have a LOT to do before then!

C.

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Local dancing. Port Vila, Vanuatu

One of the questions i get asked the most, and probably the hardest one to answer, is ‘where’s the best place that you’ve been to?’
There’s no one answer for that; i end up listing every place i’ve been to! There are some places that I loved more than others, but i’ve enjoyed every single beach, island, town, all for different reasons, and there’s no one ‘best’ place.

It’s no secret that I absolutely love the warm, tropical islands – i’m a coconut, turquoise blue water, palm tree loving girl through and through. So naturally one would assume the islands would be the best place. But which one? All of them. The islands in Papua New Guinea are so different to the ones in Vanuatu. New Zealand is cold, so one would think I wouldn’t like it there. Nope, I loved it. I just won’t be moving there anytime soon!

Where have I been? Granted, I’ve only been to a few various locations in different countries close to home: Australia, New Zealand, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea. I haven’t been all over the world (yet!) but i’m working on it! Caribbean and Tahiti, hold tight, i’m coming for you one day.

So to answer the question, the best place i’ve been to is:

  • Rabaul, Alotau (PNG): The people here were so nice! The volcano’s in Rabaul left me in awe (i’ve never seen one before) and i’m still kicking myself I didn’t do the walk up one! And i was definitely in my element with the hot, humid and muggy climate.
  • Doini Island, Kitava Island, Kiriwina Island (PNG): The tropical islands of PNG. It’s a given that i’ll love anywhere that has palm trees and blue water so naturally I was happy to wander around the few market stalls that the locals had set up for us, then sit under a tree and enjoy the peace and quiet. Te only down side is that they didn’t have coconuts here. They did however have native tribe dancing and traditional canoes that they were happy to take us for rides on and fill our heads with some history!
  • Honiara (Solomon Islands): A built up town that is VERY hot and humid! It was the kind of town that you learned as you were walking back to the ship by yourself, that you probably shouldn’t be by yourself. Especially when I reached the ship to find it guarded by armed guards. Oops. It was intimidating and an eye opener to the fact that we sometimes take for granted/forget how ‘safe’ Australia is compared to other places. There’s a lot of history to the country and I would like to go back to explore more outside of the city center one day.
  • Lifou (New Caledonia): This place has THE BEST snorkeling i’ve done! It’s a cute little island where pretty much everything is in walking distance from the ship. Coconuts, market stalls and music. There are a few little places you can visit if you hire a car or catch the shuttle bus, like caves and grottos. You can take a walk up to an old church which has amazing views overlooking the ship anchored off shore and both sides of the island (it’s a hefty walk uphill though!). Snorkeling at Jinek Bay on the opposite side of the island is worth the $15 to do it. They charge for it so that there’s only a limited number of people swimming at one time to protect the marine life, and thank god they do. You don’t want to see something as beautiful as Jinek bays natural aquarium ruined!
  • Port Vila (Vanuatu): A lot of people who have been here think of Port Vila as dirty and boring. I see it as an incredibly friendly city who are just trying to get tourism back after being hit hard by Cyclone Pam in 2015. The crowds of taxi drivers wanting business as you walk off the cruise ship can be intimidating for first timers, but they’re harmless. They’re so many beautiful places if you venture out of the city itself. The blue lagoon, waterfalls, horse riding, turtle bay…i could go on and on. And you cant forget the duty free there – The Big Yellow shop in the city itself…don’t leave without visiting it!
  • Champagne Bay,Mystery Island (Vanuatu): The tropical islands of Vanuatu, and probably would be my first pick to go back to if I had to choose. Mystery Island lives up to its name. I’ve actually been there 3 times, but up until that third visit last year, I’d never been off the ship due to weather and it being cancelled. Apparently it’s a common occurrence so if you can get off there, you’re lucky! But it’s stunning. A small island with an ‘airport’ (airstrip and a rundown house saying ‘mystery island airport) in the middle. White sand, palm trees, some good snorkelling and various water sports. Champagne Bay has the bluest water i’ve ever seen, regardless of whether it’s sunny or overcast. There’s some coral reefs not far off shore that you can snorkel, canoes for hire, the usual market stalls from the locals and of course, my fresh coconuts. They also have locals cooking fresh local food like lobster and crab which i’m yet to true, but is apparently delicious!
  • Fiordlands (New Zealand): Probably the most stunning scenery i’ve ever seen! Absolutely freezing, but you’ll never picture a cruise ship as tiny until you sail through here. The mountain peaks towering closely on both sides of the ship, with waterfalls cascading down them and snow lining the tops, it’s spectacular.
  • Dunedin, Akaroa, Bay of Isles (New Zealand): Each little town was so different in their own way, but all so similar. Dunedin and Akaroa on the south island are a lot colder and wetter. Old but pretty towns with a lot of history behind them and beautiful landscapes. Bay of Isles (Paihia) on the north island is a lot more modern (and sunnier and warmer!) and a bit more of a tourist town that has a lot to do with fishing. Plenty of opportunities to go out on boats and fish and do water sports, and is a very tropical little town for NZ!
  • Auckland (New Zealand): I dont like big cities, but I really found a soft spot for Auckland. It’s not quite as big as other capital cities in Australia, and not as busy. It’s right on the waters edge so you can stroll down off the main streets and it’s not long before you feel like you’re not in a city anymore. The people are super friendly, there’s so much good food, and many places to buy authentic NZ souvenirs.

So there you have it. That’s my answer to ‘the best place i’ve been’! I’ve probably also forgotten a few places too.
My ‘favourite’ place would be one that I would go back to over and over again, regardless of how many times i’ve already been, and would probably have to be Champagne Bay/Mystery Island/Vanuatu. As much as I love exploring new places, I’ll always be a tropical climate kind of girl!
C.