Camping on Stradbroke Island: Day 02 & 03

Day 02: Sept 19

Woke up bright and early to birds chirping and the soothing sound of ocean waves crashing on the shore.

After breakfast, we decided that we would re-hike the same path as yesterday: East from Flinders Beach all the way to Main Beach and stop to swim along the way. Since we were walking through the same scenery as yesterday, I didn’t take as many photos!

Wee, wee, wee! Riding my invisible broomstick around Home Beach

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Marking our presence!

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Morning stretches

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I found lunch! Different kinds of molluscs!

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While I was hunting for lunch, Mike decided to claim a secluded section of Deadman’s Beach as his own private beach. Just for the 2 of us!

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That is my head, sticking out of the ocean

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Closer look at the molluscs I found

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New friends! Tickling my palm as they tried to slither away

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Sand dune! Too bad we didn’t have anything to use to slide down with!

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Bird of prey swooped down and stole an angelfish caught by a fisherman

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Super calm fisherman

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Lots of little crabs on all the beaches

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Little critters all around if you stop to take a look!

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Thought these flowers were quite interesting!

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We finally made it down to Main Beach! The wind was crazy today and the waves were too large to safely go swimming… neither of us are surfers, haha!

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Since we couldn’t swim at Main Beach, we walked back (so much walking) to Deadman’s beach for more swimming… and more crabs

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We made it sure to make it back to our camp at Adder Rock in time to watch the sunset! And to not only enjoy but see our awesome astronaut (read: freeze dried) dinner!

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It was actually REALLY tasty! Yum yum!

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We took our dinner bag onto the beach to eat and watch the sunset together. Aww, how much more romantical can camping get? Haha

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The wind had picked up quite a bit after the sun went down so we hid out in our tent for the evening. Yay!

Day 03: Sept 20

Our last day on Straddie! We decided to have breakfast, pack up and head back early in order to enjoy a whole day back in Brisbane.

This little fella never failed to show up and laugh at us in the mornings!

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Our next door camping neighbour (took this with my telephoto lens). SHE HAS A FRUIT BOWL and containers with drawers!

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Someone tied their bracelet to the fence

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This bird greeted us on our first day and followed us everywhere around the camp ground. On the last day, it landed on my shoulder while we were having breakfast! Very cute, especially the way it wiggled it’s butt, I don’t know what kind of bird this is though, does anyone?

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And that’s it! Thanks for reading! Hope you enjoyed it!

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CLICK HERE IF YOU’D LIKE TO VIEW THE COMPLETE STRADDIE PHOTO ALBUM

Camping on Stradbroke Island: Day 01

September 18, 2013

During this vacation, I did something I’ve never done before: I went camping!

Big thanks to Mike for the awesome first experience! Being an avid camper, he had everything we needed to make the trip as smooth as possible πŸ˜€

Our destination had long been recommended by numerous friends and boy were we glad we finally went! STRADBROKE ISLAND – definitely would visit again!

Getting to the island was incredibly easy and convenient, making us both really wished we’d gone earlier. Take the train out to Cleveland, hop on the complimentary bus out to the dock and on to the ferry! Ferry price is $15 return for students, pretty good! Once we arrived on the island (Dunwich), the island bus was waiting and it cost an additional $2.50 to get to our camping ground, too easy!

On the way there!

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Here is a map of Stradbroke Island so you can see the places I have mentioned and will be talking about in this post.

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We decided to camp at an unpowered site at Adder Rock for $28/night. Being low season, we got our pick of camping sites and decided to camp along Flinders Beach. Camping on the beach, what could be better right? They even had all the amenities we could need, including cooking and toilet facilities. From Adder Rock, we hiked East along the coast, scampering over rocks and walking through kilometers of pristine beaches all the way to Main Beach.

Setting up camp

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Done! Our home for the next 2 days

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… with the awesome beach view

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Settled in and having lunch! Yes, Mike has a portable stove, pots and pans, and everything! Sausages, hard boiled eggs, bread, strawberries… yum!

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First selfie of the trip!

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After lunch we headed out to explore North Stradbroke Island.

We started with walking along the roads where we passed by a skatepark.

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We sooned turned off the road to walk along the beach instead. First up, Home Beach (refer to map above!)

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Beaches were pretty much empty except for a few families scattered here and there

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We’ve reached Cylinder Beach! One of the few places to swim with lifeguards.

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Beautiful Cylinder Beach

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Leaving Cylinder Beach…

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Mike taking a break

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Looking back at Cylinder Beach

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Looking ahead to Deadman’s Beach

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We saw a manta ray cruising underwater while taking a break!

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Deadman’s Beach

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Really interesting to the see the variations in volcanic rock formations and colours as you go from beach to beach.

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Frenchman’s Bay!

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Heading up to the road because you couldn’t really continue onward by the beach

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Looking back down at Frenchman’s Bay

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As we walked along the road to the Gorge Walk, we saw humpback whales! Unfortunately, they were really far out!

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The beautiful Gorge Walk!

Breathtaking North Gorge

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We really kept our eye out for dolphins and sharks, but only saw sea turtles and manta rays unfortunately. Still amazing though!

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View of South Gorge and further ahead, Main Beach!

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Endless Main Beach as far as the eye can see!

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We didn’t swim at all today. Decided that we would hike the coast again tomorrow and go swimming and visit Main Beach then. With that we headed back, returning to Adder Rock just missing the sunset! Boo, but that’s okay, we’ll make sure to catch it tomorrow!

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Getting a fire going… just because πŸ™‚

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Smoked out a huntsman spider!

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Easy dinner! With wine, fruit and other snacks on the side.

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We retired to our tent early with our headlamps and spent the night playing Monopoly Deal Card Game (thanks for that Vy!) and reading Dan Brown’s Inferno. Good end to our first day.

Hiking @ Noosa National Park (Part 2)

Following up with my previous post, we were halfway through our hike when we finally reached the gorgeous Alexandria Bay.

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How beautiful is this? And what was even more awesome, barely a soul in sight – especially compared to the Main Beach. Absolutely stunning!

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Group picture with Xuan and Mabel!

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Of course we had a dip in the ocean! The water was cool and super refreshing after the walk! The waves weren’t too bad although some sets definitely got salt water up my nose but hey, clear sinuses!

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After a snooze under the sun, we continued on with our journey! We proceeded back in the direction we came in via the Coastal Path (#4 in blue).

Noosa map

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Our first stop was at Hell’s Gate – amazing panoramic views of the great blue ocean!

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Pretty Mabel!

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Xuan… perhaps pondering the mysteries of life?

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We then continued down the Coastal Path back to the park entrance with great views of the coast along the way back.

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Before we knew it, we were on the road heading back to Brisbane with the sun quickly setting beside us… πŸ™‚

Exploding seed pods!

These photos were taken so long ago, I can’t believe I haven’t posted them yet!

The pretty purple flower, Ruellia tuberosa, develop dry seed pods that explode on contact with water, in order to scatter their seeds.

Check out what happens in this video πŸ˜‰ Michael was smothering his laugh in the background, which made me giggle uncontrollably… sorry!

I was first introduced to this years ago in Vietnam when my mom insisted we put a pod in our mouth and see what happens. Needless to say, the explosion totally caught us by surprise but left a lot of giggles. The popping doesn’t hurt you at all, just an unexpected and funny sensation. They’re lots of fun to play with and even funnier when you can trick someone else to put some in their mouth πŸ˜‰

Let’s take a closer look…

Dry seed pods

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Split pod after it had exploded with some seeds landing in the water.

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What the seeds look like dry

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Once sitting in water for a bit, you can see the fuzzy texture of the seeds.

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And to end my random post, here is a picture of what the flowers look like in bloom πŸ™‚

Day 07: Singapore – Adventure Day on Pulau Ubin!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Today was Mike and Sandra day, and we were going on an adventure to Pulau Ubin!

Pulau means Island and Ubin means Granite (in Malay). Pulau Ubin = Granite Island

Makes sense! “Granite quarrying supported a few thousand settlers on Pulau Ubin in the 1960s, but only about a hundred villagers live there today. It is one of the last rural areas to be found in Singapore, preserved from urban development, concrete buildings and tarmac roads, with an abundance of natural flora and fauna.

We decided to visit Pulau Ubin for the day, to see a bit of nature and get away from the city.

To get there, take the MRT to Tenah Merah Station then transfer to Bus No. 02 to the Changi Bus Interchange. From there only a few minutes walk to the Changi Point Ferry Terminal, where you can catch a short 10 minute bumboat ride ($2.50) over to Ubin Island.

The weather was great! We were excited to see blue skies and the sun out but also realized one thing… we didn’t have insect repellant. Knowing my luck and the fact that there was a Dengue outbreak in Singapore at the time, I was going to die… argh!

But it was too late, and we were already on the bumboat trip over and were docking…

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Welcome to Pulau Ubin!

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I had read that there was a fish spa available on the island, which is why we specifically decided to rent bikes from Celestial Resort: $10 for all day bike rental and a 1 hr fish spa. Unfortunately, the bike only had one gear… πŸ˜›

Heading in! As you can see, many shops offer bikes for hire at differing qualities and prices. You could definitely pay more and get a much better bike than we did. Actually, we recommend getting a better bike because otherwise you’ll be pushing it up the hills like we did!

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Just simple, quiet, serene views all around the island, untouched by industrialization and technology.

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Riding the bike through shaded trails, so tranquil!

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Zombie Sandra after Mike!

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It was REALLY hot. We bought a lot of water, but if you forget to bring some, there are a few places around the island you can purchase cold drinks from.

At one point during our ride, I wailed, “This is the worst part of our trip!” because of the 20+ mosquito bite welts that had appeared almost magically. For those who are sensitive like me, the suffering! The suffering is so bad!

There are a number of tame wild boars you might run into! We encountered them twice πŸ™‚

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I find the females quite dainty looking, does that even make sense?

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Haha, one of them chased after Mike and kept nudging him (getting snot and mud over his shorts) for the fried banana he was carrying. Eventually he had to loudly shoo her away.

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Took a rest by the water.

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So many mosquito bites! And lots of planes in the background πŸ™‚

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Mike pointing out Malaysia, which you can see in the distance!

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Lots of friendly dogs πŸ™‚

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We met a nice couple at the Visitor Centre who wanted a picture in front of it because the house is old and unique. In return, he offered to take one of us, how could we say no? Too bad they barely got the house in the shot…

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The house from further away

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Enjoying the nice views

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Look, a boat from Vietnam!

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We passed by a Muslim Cemetery, which I had never seen before. Don’t know if this is what they normally look like?

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We climbed up the Jejawi Tower to check out the view! Saw lots of planes (up close!) taking off and landing at Changi Airport across the water πŸ™‚

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Mike’s pretty face!

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By now, we had been biking for a couple of hours and we were hot (I was dying from itch) and sweaty. What better time to go for the fish spa?

Before heading in, we enjoyed a nice cold orange drink, included in the $10.

The fish spa was a long pond that wrapped around a corner in a shaded area to one side of the resort. There was another couple and a Vietnamese family that came in with us at the same time. The other 2 groups settled each at one end of the pond and Mike and I sat in the middle.

For the first 10 minutes, there were non-stop shrieks and giggles from the awful tickling sensation of the fish. We expected a pond with a couple fish nibbling here and there. NO. Not this place, this pond had enough fish to COMPLETELY BLANKET your feet. There were little fish that were ticklish enough and then there were bigger fish that were more ticklish.

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It was hilarious. Don’t worry, I took videos so you can partake in the laughter too!

After a while, everyone got used to the buzzing, vibrating sensation of the fish and settled down for a relaxing nibble.

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Mosquitos were still swarming me, but by now I had given up to the Dengue god and couldn’t care less. At least I had experience what it was like to have hundreds of little minion exfoliate my feet by eating my dead skin. πŸ˜›

And that marked the end of our Pulau Ubin adventure! After this, we headed back to Singapore and then back to our hotel.

But not before stopping for food! We stopped at Tekka Market in Little India close to our hotel to have some Briyani! Looks messy but I assure you it was tasty!

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We got back to the hotel in time to enjoy happy hour and of course, shower!

Tonight, we were on a mission: To have dinner at Tim Ho Wan, one of the world’s cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant, known for their amazing dim sum.

It was 8pm by the time we got into the city and to Plaza Singapura, but the line was already closed! They are still so popular that even at 8pm, the queue was at its limits before closing. SAD FACE. Broken heart.

So, with heavy hearts, we walked around Orchard Rd and checked out a few of their endless shopping centres and even grabbed a tasty kebab to eat on the streets.

Eventually, we made it back to the hotel, but again, not before stopping for more food… naan bread in Little India, what do you expect?

Haha, we called it an earlier night than usual – 11pm bedtime, woo hoo!

And that’s the end of Day 07! Our last sleep in Singapore!

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL PULAU UBIN ALBUM

Day 06: Singapore – Gardens by the Bay – Cloud Forest

Thursday, July 18, 2013

We headed back after lunch to visit the second conservatory, the Cloud Forest.

“The Cloud Forest is higher but slightly smaller than the Flower Dome. It replicates the cool moist conditions found in tropical mountain regions of South-East Asia, Middle- and South America. A 35-metre tall mountain covered in lush vegetation shrouding the world’s tallest indoor waterfall showcases plant life from tropical highlands up to 2,000-metres above sea level.”

A huge dome with a single massive mountain that greets you at the door. Mist from the waterfall envelopes you as you make your way inside.

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Looking up from the bottom: You can see the lower Tree Top Walk where you can get a bird’s eye view of the treetops. Then there is the higher Cloud Walk where you can get a closer look at all the epiphytes (plants that grow on on other plants (non-parasitically) or objects) growing on the side of the mountain.

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More views of the mountain and the walkways

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Right along the base of the mountain, you can immediately find all sorts of wonderful plant life.

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Lots of interestingly textured and wonderfully designed leaves I’ve never seen before…

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Tons of beautiful flowers, especially orchids of all types and colours

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Some hidden views

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My favourite part of visiting Cloud Forest: seeing the carnivorous Drosera (aka Sundews) and Venus Flytrap and Pitcher Plants in real life!

The Sundews and Venus Flytraps we saw were tiny though, I always imagined they would be monstrous for some reason.

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Had fun tickling some of the Venus Flytraps to see them snap shut! Hopefully we didn’t starve them…

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So many Pitcher Plants of all sizes

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The Waterfall View!

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Inside there is the Crystal Mountain Cave where you can see the many interesting shapes of real stalactites and stalagmites.

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On the Cloud Walk!

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Taking a picture of us taking a picture of us…

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We left via an escalator… that had fun lighting…

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And that marks the end of our visit to both conservatories of Gardens by the Bay!

We would be coming back for the night views of the Supertrees later tonight!

FULL CLOUD FOREST ALBUM HERE