Archives for January 2013

Big Thing Thursday: Mosquito

Itchy just lookin’ at it!

Behold! A new short-term bi-monthly feature focusing on Australia’s Big Things!

I love a good roadside attraction, the cheesier the better. So when I learned that there are giant “things” strewn about the Australian highway system, I was pretty excited. I might have even made a special map to highlight the ones we’d encounter on our travels.

I’ve decided to rate the attractions based on a scale of 1-5 stop signs. Because, you know, when it’s a roadside attraction you want to know if you should stop!

Big Thing: Mosquito
Location: Hexham, NSW


I’m seriously hope I never encounter a mosquito this big. What a nightmare.

xo, jill 

Forgiving Byron Bay

Second chances.

If you read yesterday’s post, you probably understand why I didn’t like Byron Bay. However, I also mentioned that I gave it a second chance. I’m glad I did.

Unfortunately, our return to Byron Bay coincided with the Australian phenomenon of “Schoolies week.” This is a week of revelry for graduating high schoolers to celebrate the end of their final exams. It’s pretty crazy. This photo is still haunting me. Sadly, this past year a girl died on the Gold Coast (party central) when she fell from a balcony. So, it’s pretty intense.

I thought for sure that with the addition of Schoolies Byron Bay would be unbearable.

I was wrong.

Since our first visit to Byron was so unpleasant, we decided to do things a little differently. Instead of staying at at hostel in town, we camped at a tent park in Lennox Head (about 19k away).

It was easy enough to drive into town, rent a board, and spend the day at the beach. It really is a beautiful beach. Mike surfed, I read, and we both enjoyed snacking in the park. There was a tent set up for the Schoolies, but we were at the opposite end of the beach. When we were ready for dinner, we returned to Lennox Head to eat at our tent, and spent the rest of the daylight hours exploring the lovely beach there. The next day was basically a repeat.

We saved money, had a peaceful stay, and no one called me a loser. In fact, we liked this new approach to Byron so much that we did it again on our way back down the coast (and this time I surfed!). Byron Bay had been forgiven.

xo, jill 

An unwelcome stay in Byron Bay

I’m not a loser.

I mentioned before that I did not enjoy Byron Bay. Let me tell you why.

We arrived in Byron Bay on a Friday night and checked into a very busy hostel. The only beds available were in separate rooms which was totally ok with us. (You need a little break from each other sometimes.) I set up my bed in the female dorm and Mike set up his bed in the male dorm. (By “set up” I mean, I put my backpack on the floor resting against the bed, dropped the still folded sheets on the bed, and messed up the comforter. The bed was not fully made, but it was clearly taken.)

We went out to check out the beach and explore town. No real complaints about either of those except the town seemed to be full of Aussie bro gangs taking up the sidewalks.

Back at the hostel, Mike and I went to check on our things and both reported an annoying problem. Our beds had been “stolen.” Other travelers had decided to move our belongings aside and set themselves up in our  bunks. Luckily for me, the girl was very apologetic and moved her things elsewhere. Unfortunately, that was not the case for Mike but that comes later.

As Mike was cooking dinner, I relaxed by reading a book in the common area. Not a big deal, right? Well, apparently so. Two guy’s walked past me and the one said to the other, “See that lady right there? She’s a loser.”

One, that’s just mean*. Two, lady? I guess my age is showing. Turns out those throngs of Aussie bros walking around town were also staying at our hostel. Nice.

After debating spending a night out, Mike and I returned to the hostel early and watched movies with a few other travelers. One thing you learn right away when you travel long term, weekends mean nothing. Every night is a weekend night. It’s not a big deal to stay in on a Friday night.

However, those Aussie bros I keep mentioning, they thought otherwise. Our movie was interrupted by loud pounding on the windows, rude judgements, and drunken lewd propositions. If only I could quote them for you, but it’s far too dirty to share here.

At that point it was time for sleep but the drama wasn’t over. Remember how someone took Mike’s bed? Well, Mike made the reasonable assumption that the person moved his sheets to the top bunk so he slept there. Guess not. A third traveler woke Mike at 3am to tell him that Mike took his bed. When Mike tried to explain the situation the original bed thief got involved. Apparently he had been in a fight the night before and someone else had prepared his (Mike’s) bed for him? Mike says the guy seemed fairly aggressive and then went back to snoring and farting the night away. (Yay for female only dorms!)

So. I did not like Byron Bay. You can see why I was ready to leave.

But…I do believe in second chances. A few months later it was able to redeem itself. Story to follow.

xo, jill

*It felt particularly mean because a few days before another Australian was quite insulting when he found out I’m American. It’s never polite to tell someone their country is “going down the shitter” and that you “couldn’t wait to get out of there” to cite a few examples. Yeah, thanks jerk.

Kiva Loan: January/February

1 down, 5 to go!

My Kiva loan for January and February goes to Elena who lives in Armenia. Elena is in the agricultural  business. She supports her family by growing pear and apricot trees and selling the produce at market. Elena is ready to renovate her greenhouse which would allow her to grow and sell more produce, including tomatoes. The money from a Kiva loan will help pay for the renovation and tomato seeds.

Photo from Elena’s Kiva listing.

Elena hopes the renovation will lead to increased revenue and a better ability to support her family. Sounds like a great project.

Did anyone make any resolutions that involve microlending? Make your fist loan via this link and you’ll generate a bonus loan for my account.

xo, jill

Happy Australia Day

xo, jill 

From the Hip Friday


Today’s photo from the hip comes from Tony at 20 Years Hence. If that blog sounds familiar it’s because Tony’s wife was featured here a few weeks ago. These two are currently 5 months into their amazing round the world trip, taking beautiful photos as they go.

Tony snapped this photo in Kamakura, Japan while visiting the money washing shrine (Zeniarai Benten). You’ve got to love this boy’s face. I think he’s on to you!

Thanks, Tony!

xo, jill 

From the Hip Friday features photos taken without the use of a viewfinder. If you have a photograph that was taken from the hip you’d like to share here, please contact me!

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